For a cleaner city

NR Square, Bengaluru: The Silicon Valley of India is home to a large number of software companies. However, when it comes to fulfilling basic facilities like toilets, it falls short. According to data from the BBMP, there are about 500 public toilets in the city, out of which only 200 are functional. The BBMP has proposed 250 more toilets under public-private partnership with funds from the chief minister’s Nagarotthana (city development) scheme. “Even this addition will be inadequate. Ideally, we need one toilet for 2,500 people. In the current system, every ward should have 20 toilets,” urban expert Ashwin Mahesh said.

While there is shortage for simple toilets, the IT city has come up with AC toilets which are unique and surprisingly clean.

Vishal International Association, the NGO specialized in community based construction and maintenance of public toilets, has built 3 AC toilets in the city. The BBMP has helped them by providing the space. Two of the toilets are newly built while the other one is renovated. They are located in City Market, Majestic and Mahalaxmi Layout opposite to the bus stand. Twenty five more toilets are being built across the city to cope up with the need for toilets, though they won’t be enough. The areas where this facility will be available at KR Market, Indiranagar, Kammanahalli, Jeevan Bima Nagar, RT Nagar and Malleswaram.

The NGO, Vishal International Association is run by Lakshmi Prasad R, Satish K S Shastry, and Sunil Kumar Thakur.

When asked about what the idea of a public toilet should be, Satish said, “You should feel comfortable, Not like Oh God!, Where have I come ?”.  The charges of using these AC toilets are low – Rs. 3 for urinal and Rs. 5 for using the toilets. The toilets also have radios playing round the clock!

Since women’s security is a huge issue, CCTV cameras have been installed outside the toilets.

However, building these AC toilets is a daunting task. Cost of renovating an existing toilet into an AC toilet costs approximately 8 lakhs, whereas building a new one from scratch costs around 11 lakhs. Maintaining these toilets is difficult too since manpower is difficult to find as not many people are willing to clean up toilets.

This problem was solved by building e-toilets. The toilets have automatic flush and uses only 1.5 litres of water for every flush. It costs Rs 5 lakh to install an e-toilet. Once the installation is complete, a supervisor and two technicians will be present at every centre where the e-toilets are placed. The staff will be trained in order to ensure smooth functioning of the project. Presently, Eram Scientific Solutions in collaboration with California Technology, USA, is researching ways to produce electricity through the urine stored in these e-toilets.

A total of Rs 4 crore has been allotted to the technology firm, to install 75 more e-toilets. Maintenance, installation and supervision of the electric and sewage connections for the project, will be handled by Eram Scientific Solutions. Currently there are two e-toilets in Krishna Rao Park, and one in Dodda Ganapathi Temple. Soon the way Bengaluru uses toilet will change.

Abdul Azeez Zain

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