Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Saturday, December 3, 2022

Sulabh Technology

Sulabh Shauchalaya (Two pit Pour flush Latrine) consists of a pan with a steep slope 25° - 28° and a trap with 20 mm water seal needing 1.5 to 2 litres of water fro flushing. The pan and trap of conventional design, which are used with flushing cisterns, should not be used in a pour flush latrine with leach pits, as it would need more water for flushing and the pit may not function properly.

The excreta is carried into leach pits through pipes or cover drains; one pit is used at a time. The liquid infiltrates into the soil through the holes in the pit lining. When one pit is full, excreta is diverted to the second pit. In about 18 months period, the content of the filled pit gets digested and becomes a safe organic manure for handling. The pit can then be conveniently emptied and is ready to be put back into use, after the second pit is full. Thus the pits can be used alternatively and continuously. The sludge from the pit is a good manure for use in horticulture and agriculture. The cost of emptying the pit can be recovered partially from the cost of manure in the pit. This technology opened new possibilities to promote sanitation, especially in developing countries like India.


The following are the advantages of Sulabh Shauchalaya over other technologies:


  •  Hygienically and Technically appropriate; Socio-culturally acceptable.
  •  Low cost and easy to construct with locally available materials.
  •  Design and specifications can be modified to suit the user's needs and affordability.
  •  It eliminates mosquito, insect and fly nuisance; Can be constructed in different physical, geological and hydrogeological conditions; free from health hazards and does not pollute surface or ground water, if proper precautions and safeguards are taken during construction
  •  It can be located within the house as it is free from foul smell and fly/ mosquito nuisance; Can be constructed on upper floors of houses also.
  •  Pits are generally designed for 3 years desludging interval, but if desired they can be designed for longer periods or it can be reduced to even 2 years.
  •  The maintenance of Sulabh Shauchalaya's is easy and simple and it costs very little.
  •  It needs only 1.5 to 2 litres of water for flushing compared to 12 - 15 litres required by conventional flush toilets.
  •  Less space than is required for septic tank latrine.
  •  It does not need scavengers for cleaning pits or disposal of sludge; This can be done by the householders himself or by a labourer; makes available rich fertilizer and soil conditioner.
  •  It can be easily connected to sewers; A low volume flushing cistern can be attached to avoud pour fushing.
  •  No vent pipe is required in Sulabh Shauchalaya's, as gases disperse into the soil thereby removing the nuisance of foul smell spreading in the neighbourhood.


Single leach pits are appropriate only if they can be desludged mechanically by a vacuum tanker, since their contents are not pathogen free. In two pit system, since one pit is used at a time, the filled up pit can be cleaned manually even by the householder himself because of the long period of digestion which makes it pathogen free and eradicates foul smell.

In a single pit system, desludging has to be done almost immediately after the pit has been filled to enable its reuse; This involves handling of fresh and indigested excreta which can be hazardous to health.

If a dipper with a larger single pit is provided, desludging operation will be difficult and there will be more chances of pollution especially where ground-water table is high.


Operation and maintenance of Sulabh Shauchalaya is very easy and simple:


  •  Before use, wet the pan by pouring little quantity of water.
  •  After defecation pour 1.5 to 2 litres of water in the pan for flushing.
  •  Pour about half a litre of water in the pan after urination.
  •  The pan should be cleaned once a day with a brush/ broom and with soap powder periodically.
  •  One pit is to be used at a time by plugging the mouth of the other drain.
  •  Kitchen/ bathroom wastewater or rainwater should not be allowed to enter the pits.
  •  Other solid waste like kitchen waste, rags, cotton, sweepings etc. should not be thrown in the pan; This could block the latrine.
  •  To remove choking in the trap, do rodding from the pan and the rear side by means of a split bamboo stick.
  •  When the pit in use is full, the flow should be diverted to second pit and the filled up pit should be desludged after 1.5 to 2 year rest period.

 The first pit can then be put to reuse when second pit is full.


Sulabh technology has made a tremendous impact on the lives of people especially those living in slums/ squatter settlements and those who have no toilet facilities. One evidence of the impact is that the toilet facilities created by Sulabh are now being used by over 12 million people everyday all over the country. The impact is still more on the minds of the people and decision makers at National and Global levels, where the importance of low cost sanitation technology is being realised. Sulabh's technology has been accepted as a "Model"  at the Habitat Conference at Istanbul (June, 1996) and at many other National conferences.

The lives of scavengers and the status of sanitation is higher today than at any time in history, raising the hope that scavenging may soon be a word to be read in History books. Sulabh has so far constructed and converted over 1.2 million household toilets to Sulabh two pit pour flush latrines. 5,500 Public toilets have been constructed by Sulabh are now being used by more than 12 million people everyday.

Over 50,000 scavengers have been liberated from the demeaning task of carrying excreta as head load. Over 5,000 wards and family members of the liberated scavengers have been given vocational training and resettled in other jobs. Sulabh also runs a system of Sulabh Public Schools which provides education at par with the best in the country to these bereaved people at no cost and thus helps them join the mainstream of the society.

As many as 240 towns have been made scavenging free. There has been a dramatic change in the physical environment of the towns where the Sulabh system is in operation. In the towns which have become scavenging free, all dry (or bucket) household privies have been converted into the new two pit pour flush Sulabh Toilets. The houses which had no latrines too have been provided with sanitary toilets and for those who could no afford or space was a constraint, well managed community toilets have been provided. Thus the pumping of fresh pathogenic night soil into water bodies has been stopped, leading to the improvement of the physical environment. Sulabh's innovativeness is best demonstrated in the public toilet systems operated on the Pay and use  basis which is self sustaining. Along with public toilets, Sulabh provides bathing, washing and urinal facilities with separate compartments for men and women. Some other amenities like cloak room, public telephone, primary health care, drinking water, school for children in slums etc. have also been provided at community toilets.

The user charge is nominal; The disabled, children, women and those who cannot pay are exempted from the fee for use of Sulabh facilities. The authorities, therefore, do not have to provide funds for the maintenance of public toilets for a period upto 30 years, which is a unique example of community participation in maintenance of sanitation facilities. In addition, these toilet blocks have provided dignity and safety by provided facilities for defecation and bathing in privacy, especially for women who are the greatest beneficiaries.