Educating European leaders on India’s low-cost toilets

September 12th, 2012 - 2:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) Acknowledging his pioneering work in the field of low cost sanitation and social uplift, a French economic forum has invited Sulabh Sanitation movement chief mentor Bindeshwar Pathak to share his experiences with world leaders and business tycoons in Le Harve Sep 13-14.

“Your personal and professional achievements among which your staunch dedication to the integration of the untouchables in India, alongside with your entrepreneurship sense, lead us to invite you,” said Jacques Attali, President of the LH (Le Harve) Forum that is held in partnership with the French newspaper Le Monde.

A movie on the Sulabh movement, produced by French film maker Catherine Berthillier will be screened at meet, which will be attended by a number of international leaders, including French President Fran├žois Hollande and Israeli President Shimon Peres, besides business leaders from across the globe.

Two liberated scavenger women - Dolly Parvana and Laxmi Nanda - have also been invited to narrate their stories before the meeeting. They join other liberated scavengers who have walked the ramp in New York, visited the United Nations headquarters and travelled to other countries as well.

Pathak and his team left New Delhi for France on Wednesday.

The Forum will bring together international business leaders, CEOs from a large number of major global companies, international NGOs, the best representatives of the academic/research community, the international political scene and trade unions. They will discuss the emergence of an economy that would be more virtuous, balanced and fair placing people at its heart, a Sulabh statement said.

Forum President Attali, while appreciating Pathak’s role, said: “Your work is testimony that you are not only fully part of the positive and responsible economy, but that you literally already embody this movement.”

“We would hence be extremely honored if you accepted to take part in the LH Forum event. Indeed, we would be very pleased if you accepted to present your epic success story at the closing session of the forum,” the letter added.

The Forum also noted that “as a true icon in his country, this disciple of (Mahatma) Gandhi is one of the first Indians to have successfully bet on social entrepreneurship and today manages one of the largest Indian NGOd with more than 60,000 co-workers”.

Thanks to the sanitary modernisation which he has undertaken and which generates $50 million per year, Pathak has liberated more than one million “untouchables” whose job was to collect human excrement by hand, the Forum noted.

Pathak is credited with developing a simple twin pit, pour-flush toilet system used in more than 1.2 million residences and buildings.

The facilities, which are pay-per-use, offer “an economically sustainable, ecological, and culturally acceptable solution to hygiene problems in crowded slum communities and public places”.

Waste from these toilets is converted into bio-gas for heating, cooking, and generating electricity.

The technology has since been recommended by the United Nations HABITAT and Centre for Human Settlements, as well as the United Nations Development Programme.

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