The sanitation team of Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG) along with the Municipal Committee Leh (MCL) won the first position at AMRUT Technology Challenge, which was organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on November 19 at New Delhi. The award was presented by Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale. The award also included a cash prize of Rs 500,000 and the opportunity to pilot the solution in other urban local bodies (ULB).
The sanitation team works under the Liveable Leh project, which is supported by the European Union and co-funded by BMZ. The faecal sludge management team has been operating a Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant (FSTP) in Leh since August 2017.
The sanitation team spent Rs 2.5 lakh to repair the desludging truck. However, the team could not provide desludging service to 62 percent of the calls received from the customers due to lower head created by the vacuum pump (the truck would only do desludging from a horizontal distance of 20 feet and a vertical height of 5 feet) and also due to the inaccessibility of the truck to narrow streets.
As the narrow streets were not inaccessible, the septic tanks were emptied through manual scavenging, which involves people entering into the septic tanks and cleaning the sludge using buckets and shovels. The private players charged Rs 3,500 per trip as fixed by MCL. The owners of the hotels have to pay more during peak tourist season to empty the overflowing septic tanks.
The sanitation team of LEDeG developed a double boosting pumping station to address the issue of inaccessibility and manual scavenging.
The technology is a simple and low-cost method to empty septic tanks located in narrow streets. It costs less than Vacutug ($7,000) and Gulper ($2,000)- technologies that are currently used to access narrow streets and are easy to transport and requires less manpower. The technology eliminates the need for manual scavenging, increases accessibility to narrow streets, and enables desludging from a distance up to 500 feet and a height of more than 15 feet.
The technology developed by the LEDeG Sanitation team involves a trash pump (Honda SWT – 30) which is connected to the inlet of a suction truck through valves, fixtures and flexible pipes. The suction truck is parked at the head of the narrow street. The trash pump is then dismounted and taken to the location (sometimes up to 500 feet from the street head) of the desludging in a wheelbarrow. The trash pump is placed at the head of the septic tank which needs to be emptied and is connected to the inlet of the vacuum truck through a flexible pipe.
The fixtures and valves ensure there is no leakage of sludge in the pipe and valve joints. The trash pump is switched on. The sludge is sucked through its inlet and transferred to the vacuum truck through its outlet. Once the septic tank is empty, the trash pump is turned off and remounted on the truck after transporting back on the wheelbarrow. The collected sludge is transported and discharged from the vacuum truck at the FSTP for treatment and reuse.
The pump has a foot valve which prevents entry of large solid waste. Its discharge capacity of 900 litres/min ensures that the sludge can be transferred to the vacuum truck even when placed at a height of 9 feet below the truck.
|Increased desludging capability
||Better end-user receptiveness, higher plant utilisation rates, higher end-user outreach|
|Easy operation and maintenance, easy to procure and locally repairable||Low manpower requirement, lower lifecycle costs, lesser downtime due to breakdown and repair|
|Completely mechanised||Eliminates the need for manual entry into the pits|
|Low cost – Rs 50,000, available in India and easy to use||Affordable and easy to procure by Urban Local Bodies|
|Can be used in varied terrains and geo-climatic conditions||Enables desludging on slopes and hilly areas|
The double boosting system was tested in Leh town in April this year. The initial pilot-run was 172 feet from the road head (distance between locations of vacuum truck which couldn’t enter the narrow lane to the mouth of the septic tank)
The double-boosting technology has since been used for desludging septic tanks/other containment units at a distance of more than 30 feet from the truck. The double boosting system is used mainly for desludging households and guesthouses compared to larger commercial establishments like airports and army cantonment areas which have sufficient space for the vacuum truck to enter and turn.
More than 650 desludging has been conducted at the Leh FSTP from April to October out of which 200 have been done using the double boosting system.