1968 Sulabh Technology:
Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak joined the liberation of scavengers’ cell of the Bihar Gandhi Centenary Celebration Committee in 1968 when he was entrusted with the task of finding out an alternative to scavenging. Dr. Pathak modified and developed a technology of two-pit pourflush toilet (popularly known as Sulabh Shauchalaya). He also succeeded in demonstrating the effectiveness of the two-pit pourflush toilet system. Today, engineers not only from India but even from the World Bank have accepted that the on-site excreta disposal toilet system is an alternative to scavenging, openair defecation and unhygienic, unsafe systems of human waste disposal like trench and borehole latrines, in the developing countries of the world.
1970 Sulabh Organisation Registered:
By the time, Dr. Pathak found the alternative to scavenging, the Bihar Gandhi Centenary Celebration Committee was dissolved by the Government. That year, Dr. Pathak founded a nonprofit making voluntary social organisation, Sulabh Shauchalaya Sansthan, (now known as Sulabh International Social Service Organisation) to carry out the work of liberation of scavengers from the sub-human practice of manual excreta cleaning in India and other related jobs. Thus, the seeds of the Sulabh Sanitation Movement were sown in 1970.
The mass movement by Dr. Pathak started spreading all over the country with a cadre of about 50,000 Sulabh volunteers, now working from right atop the mountain at Vaishnav Devi, to deep down in South and in the farthest corners in the east and the west of the country, in 25 States and 987 towns. An organisational set up like this has not been made to spread out so fast and be managed by any other social voluntary organisation so far. Sulabh does not receive any aid, or subsidy from internal or external agencies; it raises its own resources to run its pan- India system and its campaign against social evils, and helps the weaker sections of society.
1972 Catalytic Agent:
After developing a technology, Dr. Pathak evolved a methodology which also spelt out how a non-profit making social organisation could work as a catalytic agent between the Government, local bodies and the beneficiaries. It was felt that the Government alone could not liberate scavengers from the subhuman occupation. House-to-house contact and campaigns in local languages for their liberation was suggested as part of the methodology which was adopted by the Bihar Government. Now it has been adopted by many States Governments.
1973 Scavengers Liberation:
During the past 30 years, Dr. Pathak brought the scavengers’ liberation programme from the microlevel to the macro-level. In 1973, he had put up just two Sulabh Shauchalayas for demonstration in the compound of the Ara municipality, a small town of Bihar. Since then Sulabh has converted about one million bucket latrines into Sulabh Shauchalayas throughout the country; and more than 60,000 scavengers have been liberated and more than 240 towns have been made scavenging-free. (base year Dec. 2002).
1974 Pay-and-use System:
In 1974, the Sulabh Founder gave another concept of maintaining the community toilets and bath on the pay-and-use basis. Before 1974, public latrines in India were regarded as hell holes. Nobody was able to find a solution to this problem. Dr. Pathak found one and, on that basis, over 6,000 public toilet complexes are being maintained absolutely clean, spick and span in 25 States and four Union Territories, in 1,075 towns, including metropolitan cities of Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. These Sulabh toilet complexes are used by over ten million people a day.
1978 Historical Seminar:
Seeing the success of the scavengers liberation movement in Bihar, the Ministry of Works and Housing, Government of India, in collaboration with the WHO and UNICEF, organised a national seminar at Patna in 1978 on conversion of bucket latrines and liberation of scavengers. In this seminar, representatives from the Planning Commission, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Works and Housing, international agencies like WHO, UNICEF, World Bank, and the Secretaries and Chief Engineers of all the State Governments participated. They all approved the Sulabh technology and methodology for adoption by individuals as well as institutions. And, thus the work of liberating scavengers and the maintenance of public latrines and baths started from Bihar to spread throughout the country in due course.
1980-81 Legal Protection:
Dr. Pathak persuaded the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, to include liberation of scavengers and their rehabilitation programme on the "whole-town approach" basis. Under the scheme, implementation of Protection of Civil Rights Act 1980-81, was taken up in two towns of Bihar; Biharsharif and Purnia. In 1981-82, three more towns of Bihar, Daltonganj, Chaibasa and- Madhubani now in Jharkhand, were taken up. Later, the programme was moved on to other States. The State Governments agreed to provide alternative employment to liberated scavengers and, hence, all of them got jobs. No one has become unemployed so far. The Ministry of Welfare, Government of India, later took charge of this programme.
1984 Biogas from Public Toilet:
The first Sulabh public toilet linked biogas plant was set up at Adalatganj, Patna. It produced electricity from biogas which was supplied to the 3 kms long Bailey Road, Patna.
1985 Training And Rehabilitation:
With the help of the Ministry of Welfare, Government of India, Welfare Department, Government of Bihar, and the Bihar State Scheduled Castes Development Corporation, Sulabh started a training and rehabilitation programmes for the wards of scavengers in different trades like shorthand, typing, motor driving, mechanics, masonry work, carpentry, canework, etc. A large number of children of scavengers have already been trained. This programme is being extended to cover the entire country. The programme was later expanded to include regular education and technical training.
1985 Technology Evaluation:
The UNDP and the World Bank after evaluation of the Sulabh technology of the pourflush toilet and the methodology of the maintenance of public toilets and baths on ‘pay-and-use’ basis, passed it on to the countries of South-East Asia, Africa and Latin America for their adoption.
1986 Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act:
Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak persuaded the Ministry of Welfare to give stipends to the wards of Muslim and Christian scavengers also for training and rehabilitation. Earlier, these were available only to Hindu scavengers. Without this, the wards of Muslim and Christian scavengers would have been left out and the movement for their liberation and rehabilitation would have suffered a setback.
1988 Scavengers In Temple:
Dr. Pathak solved the problem of entry of Harijans into Nathdwara Temple in Udaipur, Rajasthan, for prayers in 1988. The controversy of entering the temple had taken a serious turn and so many attempts, made by others, had failed. The situation became so serious that the then President of India, Mr. R. Venkataraman, wanted himself to lead Harijans into the temple. Even the political leaders and the State Government officials had to go to the temple with police protection. This attracted Dr. Pathak’s attention who, with 100 scavengers and orthodox Vedic Maithil Brahmins, entered the Nathdwara Temple, offered prayers and recited bhajans and kirtans. The scavengers and the whole group took their meal together. This programme was performed without police protection. On return from Nathdwara Temple, Dr. Pathak, along with the scavengers and the Vedic Brahmins was given audience by the then President, Mr. R. Venkataraman, the then Vice-President, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma and the late Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. This act of Dr. Pathak was quite in line with Dr. Ambedkar’s who had led a group of Harijans to draw water from a public tank, Chodor Talen, at Mahad in Kolaba district of Maharashtra in 1927 and led another satyagraha to establish the right of the untouchables to enter the famous temple of Kalaran in Nasik in 1930.
1989 Casteless Puja:
On his return from Nathwara, Dr. Pathak launched a campaign to help the Scheduled Castes offer prayers in temples and performing puja at their homes by Vedic Brahmins. Also, he started common puja and dinning programmes where members of the Scheduled Castes do fasting, sit on the puja and prepare prasad. They also prepare food for lunch or dinner. After the puja is over, the prasad and food are distributed by Scheduled Castes to all, including to Vedic Brahmins, who also eat with them. This programme, which is continuing since then, has got a wide acceptance.
1990 Social Upgradation of Scavengers:
To improve the social status of scavengers in India, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak has launched a movement to socially upgrade them. This is a novel concept. There was a question mark as to whether after liberation, training and education, scavengers and their children will have upgraded status in society to be on par with the so-called upper caste people. To socially upgrade the scavengers’ status in society, Sulabh started a social upgradation campaign, one high status family in society has to "socially adopt" a scavenger family who will be treated like family members. The association with these high-status people will raise the status of the scavengers. This programme has taken off very well. So far, 5,000 scavenger families have been "adopted" by high status people, including judges, advocates, journalists, ministers and planners. Among them are the former Union Dy. Commerce Minister, Mr. Salman Khurshid; Planning Commission member Ms. Chitra Naik; Times of India Editor, Mr. Dilip Padgaonkar; former Prime Minister, Mr. I.K. Gujral and many others.
1992 Awareness Campaign:
In February 1992, Sulabh organised a "National Seminar on Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers" in New Delhi in which vice-chancellors, professors, planners, and administrators passed a resolution to make it a people’s movement. The seminar was inaugurated by the former President of India late Giani Zail Singh. Dr. Pathak regularly takes steps to create social awareness against unfounded beliefs and prejudices. He organises conferences, seminars, workshops, plays and folk dances on these themes. The attempt is to involve a large number of people from all walks of life in order to speed up the pace of the movement. 1992 “Educate, Organise, Agitate”: On the "educate, organise and agitate" principle of Baba Ambedkar, Sulabh has set up an English medium school in Delhi for the sons and daughters of scavengers wherein education is given in three principal areas: general theoretical education, compulsory vocational education (knowledge of office management, shorthand, typing and computer training), and optional vocational education (intensive training in specific vocations) so that they may not have to wait in long queues for employment. This will also enable them to be selfemployed or get jobs. Fifty percent of the school’s enrolment is of scavengers children and the rest is from other families to visibly obliterate discrimination. This unique experiment is being extended to other states also. The idea is: Education alone can empower the weak and poor.
1992 Housing Facilities:
The Sulabh has started its new endeavour to provide housing facilities to scavengers to take them out of their stinking and unhealthy living conditions. A survey of 1000 scavenger families has already been done as Patna and attempt is being made to get land from the Government at nominal price and loans from HUDCO in order to build houses for them. A similar attempt is to be made in other states.
1994 The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets:
The first of its kind in the world, the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets was set up in Delhi. The Museum, through artefacts, pictures, posters and other available materials, tells the story of the development of toilets through the ages. This is the star attraction at the Sulabh service centre, Palam. 1996 Duckweed Project: Sulabh has demonstrated an eco-friendly low-cost technology for waste water treatment through duckweed. The technology besides having low operational and maintenance costs, gives economic return in terms of pisciculture.
Developed a new technology for composting of biodegradable wastes. The technology known as Sulabh Thermophilic Aerobic Composting (STAC) requires only 8-10 days to degrade any biodegradable materials without churning.
1998 People’s Commission:
Sulabh set up a People’s Commission on the Abolition of Scavenging. Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the Commission at a function organised on November 26, 1998 to honour him with the Honest Man of the Year Award 1997. Justice M.N. Venkatachalliah, former Chief Justice of India, and Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, is the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Commission.
2000 Sulabh Towards Villages:
Started the programme of Sulabh Towards Villages, a national campaign to improve rural sanitation.
2001 Traning of Women:
Started a country wide programme for involvement of women in sanitation, health and hygiene.
2002: SET Technology:
Developed a new and convenient technology to make biogas plant effluents free from colour, odour and pathogen free. The technology known as SET (Sulabh Effluent Treatment) lowers BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) of effluent to less than 10 mg/l, making it suitable for agriculture, aquaculture or safe discharge into a river or any water body or cleaning of floors of public toilets.
• Steps taken to establish a Sulabh University of Sanitation. • A compilation of Encyclopaedia on Sanitation started. • WASH campaign launched in collaboration with Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, Switzerland. • Started another Sulabh Vocational Training Centre for liberated scavengers (Nai Disha) at Alwar, Rajasthan. • UNDP recognizes Sulabh technologies in its Human Development Report 2003. • A Sulabh delegation visited Afghanistan to take up sanitation work.
Members of the U.N. Millennium Project Task Force on Water and Sanitation visit Sulabh Campus.
• SulabhInternational Academy of Environmental Sanitation registered under the • Societies Registration Act 1860 by the Registrar, Registration, Govt of Delhi. • 23 professionals from 5 countries attended the “ Internat ional Wor kshop on Sani tat ion Technologies” organized by Sulabh International Academy of Environmental Sanitation in collaboration with UN – Habitat. • Sulabh activities find mention in President of India APJ Abdul Kalam’s book “Mission India”- A Vision for Indian Youth”
• UNDP recognizes Sulabh technologies in its Human Development Report. • 24 professionals including representatives of UN–HABITAT covering 10 African countries attended the International Capacity Building Workshop organized by Sulabh International Academy of Environmental Sanitation in collaboration with UN – HABITAT. • Stanford University includes article on Sulabh – “That Gandhi may not be born again” in its Curriculum. • Five Public toilets with biogas plants were set up in Kabul, Afghanistan with the financial support of the Govt of India.
Sulabh organized the World Toilet Summit 2007 in collaboration with WTO.