No retreat, no surrender

They say an army marches on its stomach. What is left unsaid, however, is that stomachs are connected to excretory systems. And when facilities are not provided for efficient management of excretory output, even the most dedicated of marches can come to a grinding halt.

This is the situation that army cantonments across India were dealing with. All were equipped with conventional toilets and high usage led to several sanitation issues, not the least of which were overflowing septic tanks and the accompanying emission of unpleasant odours.

Many problems with septic tank systems arise because adequate consideration is not given to the disposal of effluents from these tanks. Effluents from septic tanks are anoxic and likely to contain large numbers of pathogens which can be a potential source of infection. Even suspended solids are discharged with the effluent. Incomplete degradation of such solids leads to bad odour.

To make things worse, most cantonment regions generally don’t have a structured sewage disposal system, impacting the hygiene of troops and the environment. In tough mountainous terrains, where the going is already tough for the Army, these sanitation problems aggravate matters and can affect the morale of the force.

The Indian Army has installed bio-digesters at various locations in Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh for human waste disposal for at high altitude locations. But the sub-zero temperatures make biodegradation of organic matter difficult, posing a great health risk.

In this scenario, the Indian Army asked us for help in turning things around at cantonments in Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. And we had a Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation approved champion – Bioclean BD – to help.

Bioclean BD is our research-backed consortium of microbes specially selected to degrade organic waste optimally. It ensures no odour generation and maximum sludge reduction. Bioclean BD has proved its efficacy in a wide array of environmental conditions and performed effectively even in sub-zero temperatures to degrade faecal matter quickly and stimulate the production of methane gas, thus ensuring an odour free environment.

We worked with the Army to convert septic tanks into bio-digester tanks at cantonments in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. At the Rajasthan cantonment, we installed bio-digester tanks, which take up about a third of the space that septic tanks use, making them an easier solution to implement.

In Haryana, there were 25 septic tanks and we proposed a 270 kg loading dosage with 324 kg of maintenance dosage. The results were almost immediately visible.

At one site in Haryana, our solution reduced COD by 50% in the first month itself. Even the fecal coliform count was reduced by 40% in the first month while ensuring maximum odour control was achieved. Similar results were achieved at the second site with 30% reduction in COD levels and a 42% reduction in fecal coliform levels.

At Madhya Pradesh, there were 35 septic tanks and our proposed solution involved 241 kg of loading dosage and 165 kg of maintenance dosage. Here too, BioClean BD worked like a charm, achieving maximal odour control while reducing COD levels by 58% and fecal coliform levels by 37%.

As Dr Ambedkar said, “A safe army is better than a safe border”. Organica is proud to have done our bit to keep our soldiers safe and healthy.

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