Kills 99% of all known germs!” is a common advertising slogan for toilet (and other) cleaning products.  So, where would anyone want to add bacteria rather than take them away?

The answer – rural India, in particular the Lakshadweep Islands off the South-West coast (Clean India Journal, 2010).  If one does not have a nice sewage system to remove one’s waste, then the equivalent of millions of tiny dung-beetles might do the job for you.

Strangely enough, the bacteria that have passed the job interview are psychrophiles, cold-tolerant bacteria from Antartica, which are capable of growth and reproduction between –15 and 10°C.  At least, that’s the qualification for joining the psychrophile club, but the ones in question will also operate in regions where it never gets as cold as this.

Now they’re being installed in Dhamra, just over 200 km from Kolkata (Calcutta), considerably further north but probably even hotter in summer.  Undertaking this job is the Defence Research and Development Organisation, which means that the Army is providing the muscle for this.  Jairam Ramesh, Union minister of rural development, drinking water and sanitation,
had rued the fact that while India is capable of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles like Agni and satellites, women still don't have access to proper sanitation. According to him, 60% of women in the country do not have access to toilets. Immediately after this, DRDO took it upon itself to take up rural sanitation as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility.
Not only rural communities will, one hopes, benefit from this.  Those readers who have done any form of military service will of course be familiar with field toilets and latrines, so the Army is starting to apply this for military use, but they may be soon be found on trains also.  (Times of India)