Mumbai: Pune Entrepreneurs Ulka Suvarna and Rajeev Kher launch “Washroom-On-Wheels” for Women in Pune
Mumbai: It comes as an interesting news. College student Suvarna Dongare, like several Indian, when she is out and about, with hygienic public toilets in short supply across the country.
It came like a bolt from the blue for her when she found a pink women-only “washroom-on-wheels” in the city of Pune, where a pair of entrepreneurs have transformed run-down buses into hop-on toilets.
While interacting with the media, Dongare said that came to the park and wanted to visit the bathroom urgently. She found these toilets very much comfortable and safe.
For an inexpensive Rs.5/- any woman can board the toilet bus to use the facilities, breastfeed babies or purchase sanitary napkins and diapers.
Set in motion by entrepreneurs Ulka Sadalkar and Rajeev Kher, the “Ti Toilet” project – “ti” means “her” in the local Marathi language – has 12 mobile washrooms. On an average, more 200 women use it daily. The buses are powered by solar panels mounted on top of the vehicle.
According to Sadalkar, the pair, who run a portable sanitation business, came up with the idea as part of a series of projects focused on improving hygiene in the city.
“We believe women deserve access to clean and safe washrooms and it is their basic right,” she told the media persons adding that the duo- she and Rajeev, wanted to open 1,000 toilets across India in the next five years.
“We focused a lot on aesthetics in renovating and decorating these buses and provided clean toilets, television sets (and) temperature monitors, with an attendant in tow.”
Ms Manisha Adhav, who operates one of the toilets, told the media persons that she felt proud to be working here, as we are doing something for women.
“Women shower blessings on me me as they come here from far away destinations as well because there aren’t enough public washrooms around” said Manisha.
Even as India went on a building spree constructing millions of toilets as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship “Clean India” programme, experts said the lack of water or electricity meant many remain unused.
State governments have struggled to maintain public toilets, which are often poorly lit, unmanned, and reek of urine and faeces.
These too are mostly used by men, with women – fearing for their safety – going long hours without using such facilities.
Mr Modi in October declared India free of open defecation and said 600 million people had been provided with access to toilets.
But experts questioned the claims and said sanitation and safety remain closely connected for millions of Indian women.
“Locating clean and safe washrooms in public spaces is not easy during emergencies. We are trying to change that,” Manisha said.
News Input by K.V.Raman