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A large section of Indian population lives in villages and is mainly engaged in agriculture. They
belong to weaker section of the society. There is a definite trend of rural population migrating to
the urban areas due to lack of employment opportunities, low earnings, insufficient means of
transport and insanitary living conditions. The latter is mainly responsible to repel the educated
youth from working in rural areas. One source of insanitary condition in rural areas is the
drainage of waste water from bathing and cooking areas of dwellings over the kutcha roads and
lanes having inadequate slopes. The situation is further aggravated due to the movements of
carts and animals which result in the creation of pot holes and ditches that gets filled up with
dirty stagnant water. The mosquitoes and flies find good breeding centres in these places and
spread diseases.
Some of the village roads are brick paved with drains for waste water disposal. But these have
not served the required purpose due to improper slopes, insufficient maintenance and
unpredictable flow of water. Rural dwellings having their own source of water supply like hand
pumps discharge more water on the streets. Furthermore, the agricultural waste and domestic
refuse collect in drains obstructing the flow of water and ultimately, all these things appear on
the streets.
Some of the village panchayats* have suggested individual pits for collection of waste water and
its disposal by intermittent sprinkling on large areas, either in the courtyard or on the streets.
The villagers adopt this practice for some time, but their enthusiasm dies with time.
A few progressive farmers have access to the technical know-how and capacity to invest
finance to make large sized soakage pits filled with brickbats (to dispose off water
underground). These are frequently choked with ash and soil used by the villagers to clean their
utensils. This requires cleaning of the pit and involves considerable expenditure. The high cost
of construction and costly maintenance make it beyond the reach of the poor.
A detailed study of the problem, including the living habits of rural population, was conducted by
the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee. The urban type of underground drainage
system was not found suitable because of the settlement of silt and ash in drains; insufficient
quantity of water for self-cleaning of the drains; high maintenance and running cost. The lack of
interest in the maintenance of community services leads one to conclude that the proposed
system should be such that it should make the individuals responsible to run their own waste
water disposal system. At the same time, the system should be within the economic reach of a
villager who can maintain it without outside help. Keeping in view all these factors, a system has
been developed at this Institute to dispose off waste water in rural areas. Salient features of this
system are given below:

Waste Water Dispo

osal System
m for Rura
al Areas

ed System
The prop
posed system
m consists of
o an ash/silt trap chamber and a borre hole.
The ash silt trap cha
amber (Figure 1) is recttangular in shape
having. 7.5 cm th
hick wall of burnt
d in 1:6 ceme
ent sand mo
ortar and is constructed
d into
brick laid
near waste water outlet. It is divided
two compartments by
b a 7.5 cm thick wall and
a is coverred with a R.C.C.
or reinforced bricck lid.
es of first and
second compartme
ent are mad
de as 45x45
5x70 cm an
nd 30x45x70
0 cm
The size
respectivvely. Triangu
ular ducts 8xx8 cm in sizze and 46 cm
m deep are made in corrners adjace
ent to
each other in both compartmentts, diagonally opposite to
t inlet. A ho
ole is left in the partition
n wall
of the duct
portion to provide connection
e two ducts.. The
19.0 cm below the top
nt is filled with
4 cm size brick ba
allast. In the
e first comp
partment, he
second compartmen
particles of silt and ash,
flowing with
w waste water,
settle down, and floating
and greasy mate
ped. The wa
ater having only
al and suspe
ended particcles rises thrrough the du
uct of
get trapp
the first compartmen
nt and flows to the bottom
m of the seccond compartment throu
ugh the duct. The
ed and collo
oidal particles get stuck to
t the brick ballast
and only
clear water is allow
wed to
flow into the bore hole for final-disposal un
nderground. When the first comparrtment gets filled
e lower mou
uth of the du
uct will be closed
and water
will sto
op flowing to the
with ash and silt, the
nt. This will cause
floodiing of the firrst compartm
ment and ba
ack-flow of water
second compartmen
g that the co
ompartment requires cle
eaning. The
e system is reactivated
by removing
g ash
and silt frrom the first compartment.
The bore
e hole of 30 cm in dia. iss made with the help of auger and this
is deep enough to reach
the first layer of san
nd subject to
o maximum of 3 m dee
ep. It is also
o filled with 4 cm size brick
aggregattes. It is prop
posed to construct this system
in th
he courtyard of the housse owner so that,
in case of choking of the cham
mber, he wo
ould have it cleaned to avoid nuisa
ance create
ed by
overflowiing water.
Unlike th
he existing soakage
sysstems where
e the ash an
nd silt directtly flow into the soakag
ge pit
and causse choking, the propose
ed system provides
for their retenttion in ash/ssilt trap cham
and its subsequent cleaning,
hen the wate
er starts ove
erflowing. Th
he materialss required fo
or the
os.), 6 mm dia.
d M.S. ba
ars (3
constructtion of one unit include cement (1//2 bag), Briccks (160 No
kg), Bricck ballast (0.35
Sand (0.15 Cu.m.), 6 mm sizze
crushed stone (0
0.02 Cu.m..),
Skilled la
abour (one man
m day) an
unskilled labour (2 man dayss).
The costt of these materials
labour at
a Roorkee rates (July
2003) ha
as been estimated as Rs.
875/- (U.S. $ 20). Th
he retention of
water in
n the first compartmen
and its passage
ough the bricck
aggregattes (filled in secon
ment and bore
hole) is
also exp
pected to reduces th
BOD be
efore the water
the subso
oil water level.
Note: alll dimensions are in centimeters
e 2 : Ash Siltt Trap Chamb

A prototype of the proposed soakage system was built in the colony of poor people in a village
near Roorkee about thirty years' ago. After its satisfactory performance four such soakage
systems were provided in four different houses in another village and now thousands are
functioning without any problem.
Construction Procedure
A pit equal to the outer dimensions (60 x 100 x 66 cm) of the chamber is excavated. A layer of
flat bricks in mud mortar is laid at the bottom of the pit to form floor of the chamber. The walls
7.5 cm thick in burnt bricks with 1:6 cement sand mortar are built as per the design (Figure 2).
This chamber is divided into two compartments by a wall of 7.5 cm thick. The sizes of the first
and the second compartment are made as 45 x 45 x 70 cm and 30 x 45 x 70 cm respectively. A
triangular duct 8 x 8 x 46 cm is made diagonally opposite to the inlet of the first compartment. A
similar duct is made adjacent to the first duct in the second compartment.
A hole is left in partition wall 19.0 cm below the top of the duct portion to provide connection
between the two ducts. All the walls of the chamber are made 11.5 cm above ground level. Two
precast R.C.C. (1 :2:4) covers of 5 cm thickness and 56 x 60 cm and 41 x 60 cm size
respectively are made to cover ash/silt trap chamber. The second compartment is filled with 4
cm size brick ballast.
Bore hole 30 cm in dia. is made with the help of an auger at a minimum distance of 30 cm from
the chamber. It is taken up to the first layer of sand or up to 3 m. depths whichever is less. The
bore hole should be made at least 6 m away from the hand- pump or well. A drain covered with
brick is made 51 cm above floor level of chamber to connect bore hole with chamber. Brickwork
11.5 cm thick 30 cm deep is carried out around the circular hole to protect the top from
collapsing. The bore hole is also filled with 4 cm size brick ballast. The top of the bore hole is
covered by laying flat brick plastered with 1:6 cement-sand mortars or with 5 cm thick R.C.C.
Observations were made about the working of this proposed system on the prototype
constructed about thirty years ago in the villages near Roorkee. They were found satisfactory for
a period of four months and, after that, water started overflowing. On .inspection it was found
that the first compartment of ash/silt trap chamber was filled with ash, choking the lower mouth
of the connecting duct. It was cleaned by the owner of the house and put back into service.
Further observations lead to conclude that, in spite of the introduction of the ash/silt trap
chamber, some suspended material and ash may flow into the bore hole before the complete
closure of the duct. Therefore, it is recommended that even if the back- flow of water due t"
closing of the duct does not take place, the first compartment of ash/silt trap chamber should be
cleaned once in four months and the brick aggregate of the second compartment at least once
in eight months to avoid chance of such flow and failure of the hole.
The proposed soakage system is a small compact unit designed for individual dwelling. This
simple technique involves the use of locally available materials and labour. The technique is
compatible to the average villager's economic level. This whole system is covered and is below
the ground level enabling free traffic movement above it. Chances of mosquito breeding are
completely eliminated. Pollution of rivers and ponds are avoided in this system.
Only an auger for making the bore hole is required and this could be procured by village
panchayats or social welfare organizations.
The simplicity of construction and low cost, it is hoped, should encourage villagers to adopt this
system, thereby improving the environmental conditions of the village as a whole.

The plus point of this system is recharging of ground water. This system can also be
constructed using ferro cement technology by maintaining internal dimensions of the system.

Low Cost Sanitation

Poor health in developing countries is largely due to
diseases like cholera, dysentery, gastroenteritis and
worm infections carried by contaminated food water
and ground. Effective sanitation is an important way of
reducing the incidence of such diseases but modern
water borne sanitation system is not possible in many
parts of the world, due to its high cost and shortage of
water. High cost of providing sewers for rural as well as
urban areas having low density makes them nonacceptable due to financial constraints. Therefore, it is
important to search for appropriate alternatives.
In India a large number of people have no latrines or have bucket or dry latrines, especially in
rural areas condition is worse in comparison to these national average and majority of people
resort to open air defecation. Statistics reveal that 120 million people in the world are without
adequate water supply and 1350 million without sanitary facilities in rural areas is 15 percent.
Bore- hole latrines with precast slabs had been tried in India but these suffered from the
nuisance of odour and fly breeding. The pits get filled up soon necessitating a change of site.
The design was improved with addition of concrete pan and water seal trap to cut odour and
A number of efforts have been made since 1930, to further improve the design, as a result of
which more than a dozen designs of sanitary latrines have been developed varying from the
simplest design of bore-hole type to the complex design of Electrolux Vacuum System. Their
applicability and acceptance depend on the preferences based on availability of space, local soil
conditions and finance. Each of them has potentiality of its adoption under different
However, a design for wider application should be simple, inexpensive in construction and
should provide freedom from odour, unsightly conditions, handling of fresh excreta and its
contacts with flies and animals. It should eliminate chances of contamination of surface soil, and
ground water that may enter springs or wells.
In addition to these basic criteria the following requirements have to be considered while
proposing any excreta disposal system for developing countries:

Daily operation should require minimum education and guidance to users of all ages.
Cost of the system should be within the reach of users.
Construction of the system should be based mainly on the use of local materials and its
maintenances should be possible with semi-skilled labour, available in the areas.
Requirement of water for transport and treatment should be minimum.

The system should include the possibility of improvement in future when economic condition
of the users improves.

CBRIs contribution
This institute has studied different types of designs available for construction of low cost rural
and urban latrines to suggest economically viable and acceptable solutions for developing
countries. Different aspects like size of the super structure, type of latrine pans and water seal,
different specifications for construction of leaching pits including their distance from one another
and from existing buildings have been examined. Following recommendations are made on the
basis of these studies:1.

Type of Latrine

Hand-flushed water seal latrine seat proposed by Planning Research and Action Institute
(PRAI), Lucknow and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur
and as already adoption by Indian standards institution (ISI), New Delhi is recommended for
adoption due to its low water requirements for flushing and low cost. The design consists of
cement concrete/mosaic pain, known in the market as PRAI type seat, (now available in
sanitary were as well as in F.R.P), P-shaped trap having 20mm water seal, foot rest, and two
pipes made of cement concrete or any other suitable material (covered channel made of brick
can also be used) and connected with two leaching pits. The pipes of bricks channels are
connected with seat through a connecting chamber which permits ease in shifting the
connection to the second leaching pit when the first gets filled up after the stipulated period of
5years.The first pit can be emptied for successive use after a further lapse of 3 to 5 years and
the contents, use as manure.

Size of Latrine

Size of 75cm x 90cm is the minimum but it needs strict supervision and control of dimensions
while fixing the pan and foot rest to maintain proper clearances. Fat and tall people feel it a bit
congested. The size of 80cm x 100cm is more appropriate and optimum to satisfy all the
persons. Therefore, 80cm x 103cm size is adopted in the enclosed drawings after considering
the size of the brick available in the market.

Materials and Construction

Nine different specifications for the construction of latrine, sixteen for lining the leaching pits and
four for pits covers were finalized alter considering the material and skill available in different
part of the country. The materials used include brick concrete, ferro-cement, used bitumen
drum, bamboo mats and earthen rings. Typical designs using brick (due to their availability in
most of areas) with brief specifications are shown in Figure. 1(a), 1(b) and Figure. 2. However,
drawings proposing use of other materials can be made available.

Infiltrative Capacity of Soil

It has been observed that the infiltrative capacity rate of percolation of water decreases after
first use of the leaching pit due to deposition of organic matter in between the soil particles. This

can be improved by keeping the pit open to sky for one month after removing the decomposed
excreta during dry weather or scrubbing the wall surfaces and digging the bottom of pit to
remove part of the soil.
Studies have also been carried out on water percolation in leaching pits with honey comb brick
wall and with solid brick wall without plaster of pointing; with impervious floor and without floor.
Effect of walls with or without honey comb brick work was found to be insignificant but that of
floors was very high. It is, therefore recommended that the walls of leaching pit should be solid
but without plastering or pointing to make them structurally strong and to avoid caving of soil.
The floor should however, be without any lining except in high subsoil water table areas where it
has to be impervious to reduce change of pollution.
Distance between Leaching Pits
A minimum distance of one meter is recommended between two leaching pits to avoid seepage
of water from one to the other. However, it has been observed that making two leaching pits
together with a common wall is easier to construct.

Distance of Leaching Pits from Existing Buildings

When the depth of leaching pit goes 100 cm below the foundation of buildings, the minimum
distance of a leaching pit from existing structure can be 85 cm for clayey sand and 125 cm for
sandy clays. This distance can be adjusted proportionately when the depth of leaching pit below
the foundation varies.

Volume of Leaching Pits

The volume of leaching pit has been based on the

average value of 44lit.per person per year and a pit of
1.1cubic meter capacity will therefore; serve five users
for about 4year in sandy soil and 6years in clayey soils.

Optimization of Leaching Pit

Two basic shapes i.e., square and circular were studied for structural stability and ease in
construction. It has been found that the size of leaching pit being small, there is no significant
difference in the structural properties of the two. However, construction of a circular pit needs
skilled labour and proper care while the square one is easy to construct for most of the masons.
Other parameters like structural safety of the pit and its cover, handling of the covers by the
labour, absorption characteristics of the soil, working space required by labour during
construction and removal of decomposed excreta and minimum cost of the leaching pit, when
considered together, lead to the conclusion that optimum diameter and depth for circular pit
should be 1.07m and 1.22m respectively for five users for five years. Similarly width and depth
for square pits should be 0.92m and 1.2m respectively.

Pollution Aspect in High Subsoil Water Level Areas

Water discharge along with the excreta gets absorbed underground and has potential danger of
mixing up with subsoil water and thus carrying contamination for long distances. Safe distance
to avoid these chances has been recommended as 2m between the bottom of the pit and

subsoil water table but it is not always possible to maintain this. In many places the subsoil
water table is so high as to cause direct mixing of the water discharge with excreta, with it.
There is a need to avoid such mixing and therefore the design is not suitable for such locations.
It is proposed to make the bottom of the pit impervious by using polythene sheet and filling
45cm thick layer of fine sand around the pit to act as filter to reduce the chances of pollution.
This institute has also developed a low cost alternative to solve the problem to excreta disposal
for areas with very high subsoil water level. It consists of a decomposition tank and two leaching
pits. The night soil is allowed to pass to the leaching pits after it has completely decomposed.
The details of the system can be supplied on demand.

Figure 2: Twin Leaching Pit for Latrine

Field Experiments
The latrines described above have been constructed in Roorkee town and Mewad Kalan,
Khanjarpur and other villages for individual owners and by Sulabh international, Patna for
making feed back studies. Following observation have been made:

Owners, masons and labours preferred two square pits built together, with solid partition wall against
two circular pits due to ease in construction, in digging of pits and less space required to
accommodate them.
11.5cm (4 ) thick wall for lining the leaching pit behaves better than 7.5cm(3")thick wall due to
ease in laying and better stability against concentrated lateral loads.
Solid R.C.C pit cover, 7.5 cm thick with sufficient reinforcement should be provided to avoid any
accident due to unexpectedly high loads or point load caused by cattle.
All latrines are working satisfactorily and their demand has increased manifold.

The cost of latrine up to plinth level and with superstructure has been estimated as Rs. 4550
and Rs. 7600 respectively at Roorkee market rates in Jan 2004. Details of material and labour
requirements are given in Appendices A and B.
Satisfactory performance of the low-cost sanitary latrines built at various places has paved the
way towards a solution of the problem Low initial expenditure and maintenance cost makes
them more acceptable even to the weaker section of society.

Appendix A

Appendix B

Materials & Labours requirement for construction Of low

cost latrine up to Plinth Level Only

Materials & Labours requirement for construction

Of low cost latrine: Complete



1. Cement
2. Sand
3. 1st class brick
4. Stone Aggregate
12 mm & down gauge
5. Brick Aggregate 40 mm size
6. M.S. bar 6 mm dia
7. W.C Seat with trap
8. Foot rests
9. Binding Wire

0.60 m3
750 nos

4-5 bags

0,2 m

0.12 m3
10.50 kg
one set
one pair
200 gms

6-7 bags
1.0 m
1180 nos
0.3 m
0.12 m3
13 kg
1 no.
one set
one pair
200 gms

Labours (man days)

Labours (man days)


1. Cement
2. Sand
3. 1st class brick
4. Stone Aggregate
12 mm & down gauge
5. Brick Aggregate 40 mm size
6. M.S. bar 6 mm dia
7. Door shutter complete including
8. W.C Seat with trap
9. Foot rests
10. Binding Wire