E-toilets hit by summer woes

Prajakta Joshi
Wednesday, 15 May 2019

“Usually, we use the PMC water supply to keep the toilets’ water tanks filled up. However, lately, the pressure is low, and at many spots, we have to depend on tanker water,” Sadalkar said.

PUNE: The Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) e-toilets were launched a few months ago with an aim to provide clean and hygienic public restrooms to Puneites. However, issues concerning  maintenance and water availability at these washrooms have begun to pop-up in the rising summer heat.

While the duration and availability of water by PMC has decreased in the summer months, the maintenance of these toilets might soon turn out to be an expensive affair.

Sanitation sector entrepreneur Ulka Sadalkar, who along with her counterpart Rajeev Kher, has transformed scrapped buses to turn them into mobile toilets for women ‘Ti’, said that the washrooms are presently being supplied water through tankers.

“Usually, we use the PMC water supply to keep the toilets’ water tanks filled up. However, lately, the pressure is low, and at many spots, we have to depend on tanker water,” Sadalkar said.

She added, “However, buying tankers for all the toilets is getting quite expensive for us. I believe there is a need to find a more sustainable solution to survive through the water crisis in summers. Maybe we can recycle the flushed water. That could save a lot of water, and ease the problem to some extent.”

RESTROOMS SHUT AT NIGHT
There are 12 e-toilets set up by the Pune civic body at several spots across the city.

These are self-maintained toilets that flush themselves before and after use, and also clean the floors after use. They work like a vending machine, wherein you need to insert a coin for the toilet door to open. 

However, when there is no water or power availability, the doors do not open. This issue has been observed at nights by a few women.

“I was travelling off Sinhagad Road late at night, and wanted to use a washroom badly. An e-toilet near Rajaram Bridge caught my eye. However, I could not use it as it would not open due to lack of water. Although it is a smart way to keep the washrooms clean, what’s the point if we cannot use them when we need them the most? Water availability has to be ensured,” IT professional Tanmayee Joglekar said.

German language translator Manali Walimbe also added, “I have seen the mobile toilets kept shut at several places. If there is any event at a public place, like a concert or a shopping festival, these toilets are seen in useable condition. Otherwise, mostly when I tried to use it, I could not, as it said no water.”

However, PMC’s Solid Waste Management Department chief Dnyaneshwar Molak said that he has not received any such complaints from anyone yet.

“These toilets have a tank that can accumulate upto 350 litres of water. The tanks are usually filled fully from time to time. Till now, the only problems have occurred on days like Thursdays, when there are water and electricity cuts in the city. Apart from that, the e-toilets are not facing any water woes,” Molak added.

APPEAL
- Have you come across any such public washrooms in the city that had no water at any time of the day? Or any that were too dirty to use/ If yes, please get in touch with us on email at reporters@sakaaltimes.com 
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