What if we said you could take your toilet wherever you go? And that all it would take just two hours to build it?
Amused? Don’t be. Because one Swachh Bharat hero from Pune, Maharashtra built such a smart toilet made out of waste thermocol as early as 2007.
Pune-based industrialist Ramdas Mane is the founder of ‘The Mane Group of Industries’ which manufactures thermocol machines and also runs ‘Ready made toilets.’ Till date, Mane has supplied more than 22,000 toilets in more than 17 states across India.
One feather in the cap of this businessman with a golden heart is that he even donated 25 such toilets to newly-married underprivileged women who couldn’t afford buying one.
Growing up, Mane, who hails from the Satara district of the state, was no stranger to the suffering of the women in his own family who faced the embarrassment of having to defecate in the open in the dark of the night or at early dawn.
Speaking to NDTV, he says, “I have grown in a family where there was no toilet culture. I have seen women of my house going out in the open to defecate, I have seen them suffering. This was not just the story of my house, but my entire village.”
Mane journey to success is nothing short of inspirational. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon. From working as a waiter to sweating it out at a construction site, he did it all. But in his heart he knew he wanted to embark on a journey that would help the people around him.
After finishing his Industrial training, he worked as an intern with Mahindra and Mahindra Companies in Pune. All he earned at the time was a stipend of Rs. 100. It was only when he cleared his internal exams successfully that he became a permanent employee in the company.
The year 1994, brought about a major turn in Mane’s life. Trusting his entrepreneurial spirit, he quit his job to begin a business of making thermocol machines. Mane’s company even made it to the Limca Book of records in 2007, for the biggest thermocol machine. It was incidentally the same year, Mane decided to venture into smart toilets.
For those who remember, 2007 was also the year in which the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh, started a Swachh Abhiyan in the state. He announced a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh to the first village which would successfully construct toilets in each of its households.
It took Mane’s village nothing less than a year and half to construct 198 toilets. All it needed was two more toilets to claim the prize. The clock was ticking, as they had only eight days to achieve their target.
All the toilets Mane had helped construct in his village back then were made of bricks, cement and tiles and would take several days to finish.
“Making a toilet was a very big deal. We had to get bricks from one place, the door from another, cement from a different place. And it used to take days just construct one toilet. As days were passing and our chances of losing emerged as an eminent reality, I was pressured by my village people and officers. They said, “Sir, you are a big industrialist, why don’t you research more on making a smart toilet that can be made in few days?” Mane recalls in his interview with NDTV.
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It was at the time, Mane made two toilets out of thermocol. These toilets served as prototypes for his business ‘Ready made Toilets.’
How are these thermocol toilets made?
The innovation works on a simple model. As Mane runs a business of thermocol machines, all waste thermocol is collected and recycled. The end result of this recycling process are differently shaped thermocol components which are used in toilet construction. For e.g. big rectangles to create slabs, small bricks called ‘thermocol sandwich bricks’ for laying walls etc.
Once the entire thermocol structure is put into place as per the required design, it is coated with concrete cement and left to dry. Here it is important to note that while the toilet takes only two hours to build, the cement coating and drying process takes an additional four hours.
If you visit the website, you see the four toilet models that Mane’s company supplies. The basic toilet model costs about Rs. 13,000. This comes in stark contrast to the existing costs required to build a conventional toilet which will cost anywhere between Rs 35,000 to 40,000 a piece.
This 7.3 ft x 4ft model is a low cost portable and executive toilet which you can install and use within two hours. It is can also be moved from one place of another place as per your convenience. Apart from saving construction time, it has the capacity to carry a 300 litre water tank.
The construction time for this basic model is two hours, and that is without any plumbing facilities. This model therefore, is useful in rural areas where many people carry water buckets to the toilets. It is extremely useful for laborers on construction sites too.
The price range for the other models keeps increasing as they come additional facilities, for eg. one model with tiles costs Rs. 15,000, another with European seating and a wash basin costs Rs. 22,000 and the last one which is a light-weight portable toilet costs about Rs. 35,000.
While the basic construction for other models also require two hours, additional facilities like using tiles, adding a flush tank, wash basin, or setting up water facility takes additional time. Each toilet requires an average of three people for set up.
What once started as an experiment with scrap thermocol and an idea to merely help his village win the Swachh Abhiyan has today transformed into a successful company with an annual turnover of Rs. 40 crore with 70 employees.
Needless to say, the man behind the innovation has been felicitated with a host of awards by different organisations and governments, not just in India, but abroad too.
“Every individual can contribute towards a swachh nation cause like I am. It is simply about the efforts and innovations,” says the innovator.
Know more about Ready Made Toilets here.
(Edited By Vinayak Hegde)