Case Study

Water Reclamation and Reuse – Shore of the Holy Town of Rameswaram


Ekam Eco Solutions

Problem Statement 

Development Credit Bank (DCB) has “water conservation” as an area of CSR focus and has reached out to Ekam as an implementation partner and tasked Ekam to identify sites and organisations interested in contributing to the water conservation efforts but require support in establishing the basic infrastructure to save and recycle water. After evaluating the feasibility and longevity, Ekam has identified Rameswaran as a potential project site.

Rameswaram is a pilgrimage site that hosts a large number of devotees and tourists, receiving over 15 million visitors yearly on average. However, there is a lack of sufficient sanitation facilities, and the existing facilities are poorly maintained to handle the crowd the area receives. Yet, Rameswaram experiences several other water management issues. In general, the state of Tamil Nadu receives rainfall post-monsoon season, from October to December. However, the state is also subjected to extreme weather conditions such as flooding in coastal districts and severe droughts during monsoon failure. Additionally, intense and erratic rainfall patterns during monsoons often result in floods that run off immediately to the ocean. This limits the potential for the recharge of water sources and results in water stress. Secondly, the large seashore and coastal restriction zone necessitate proper water treatment before the wastewater can be discharged into the ocean. Thus, in response to the lack of sufficient sanitation facilities, water stress and coastal zone restrictions, Ekam adopted the concept of circular economy and ideated the Lootel Cafe as an attempt to explore the possibility of creating a hygienic and accessible sanitation facility that incorporates an on-site wastewater treatment plant.

Successful Implementations

Lootel (Loo of Hotel) is a smart restroom cafe that provides a place to “Take a Break”. It provides a premium clean restroom experience, with an air-conditioning system and light background music in restrooms, that changes the experience of public restrooms in India.

As the location identified falls under a coastal restriction zone, where no civil construction is allowed, and the discharge of the sanitation facilities must not be disposed directly into the sea, Ekam has explored building sanitation facilities in a portable structure. To manage the wastewater generated, the discharge of the toilets is connected to a series of five septic biodigester tanks underground which have scientifically designed partitions between them to create a slow the sewage flow through a filtration and disinfection system. The first tank is dosed with sewage care anaerobic culture every week (Step 1) to degrade the solid waste into water and carbon dioxide. For 72-96 hours, water overflows from the first to the fourth tank, where the organic waste is completely digested and the biological oxygen demand (BOD) of the water reaches a minimum level safe for consumption (< 30 ppm) (Step 2). The water then goes through a filter to remove the odour and colour (Step 3) and is subsequently disinfected thoroughly through an electro-cavitation process (Step 4) and stored in the fifth tank.

Closing the loop, the processed water can be recirculated for horticulture or any non-potable application, such as landscaping and pathway washing. Additionally, this service is built on a self-sustainable, value-generating model of “Pay, Use, and Redeem”, in which each user pays for the restroom usage and is able to redeem restroom coupons at our adjacent commercial shops like Lootel café for food and beverages. This paywall generates profits to sustain the toilet’s operations and management. 

For more details of a successful example, please check out the video below: 

Intersectionalities and Impacts

Since September 2019, the Rameswaram project has been successfully implemented for over three years. Based on an estimation of the number of visitors visiting the toilet and the water consumption, approximately 250 litres of water is regenerated from the sewage tank daily, which amounts to minimally 75,000 litres annually. The annual report from last year reported over 50,000 users since the project began. Of the 186,546 litres of water consumed, a steady proportion of 50% has been recycled.

Furthermore, rather than releasing the treated water into the ocean, it is directed to nearby municipal gardens. This recycled sewage water is nutrient-rich, containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, promoting faster and healthier tree growth while reducing reliance on chemical fertilisers. This water recycling approach will bring significant cost savings by minimising water transportation between areas and districts to meet demand. This further contributes to the reduction of the burning of fuel and carbon emissions. 

The development of Lootel has also benefited the livelihoods of the locals by generating local employment as locals are hired to manage and run the facilities. For example, the Lootel outlet at Rameswaram hires 4-5 people. With the expansion of the Lootel project across other locations, this impact will be greater. Thus, while providing better sanitation facilities, the impacts of the project span across the environment in terms of recycling water and potentially reducing carbon emissions, as well as the livelihoods of the local population through employment  


We have applied for more locations through Lootel and will continue to implement this facility when we identify a site that meets the space required for the facility. Currently, there are a total of five Lootel Cafes, including AICTSL Indore, Bilaspur, Rajwara, Rishikesh and Rameswaram. Furthermore, this service has also seen great potential in the private sector to meet the government’s regulatory requirement on pollution control. For instance, we have extended the implementation of this project to the many resorts in the state of Goa. While these costs and operations do not fall under the CSR budget, business operators are increasingly aware and sensitive to the environmental effects, suggesting great opportunities for Ekam Solutions to scale up this project. 


A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training

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