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BMC to build 22,774 new toilets and most of them are “Her” toilets

Allowing more toilets for women to use is a step in the right direction, but the city needs much more numbers of toilet considering the 1.24 crore population and more than 50 lakh floating population. Even it is important to have more public toilets in the business areas. Looking at the need for more public toilets, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has planned to transform scrapped Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses into AC toilets for women. These would be exclusive toilets for women commuters; there would be a sanitary napkin dispenser and a breastfeeding compartment inside the bus. The conversion of scrapped buses into toilets was first started in Pune, with 12 such super luxurious and hygienic toilets.

More than 80 lakh people travel every day in the locals. The distance of travelling may be between one hour and more than that but commuting from home to station and then station to the workplace is not less. You definitely need lavatories on or around stations. The local trains have frequency of around 3-10 minutes. So that if one has any such ’emergency’ you can get down at any station, do the ‘needful’ and get on the next local but getting in next local is no less stressful. Nothing is impossible in this world. A modular type bio toilet would be fitted in the ladies compartment but looking at the sizes of the train and overcrowded compartments, having toilets inside is really not a good idea but having sufficient toilets on the station or around them is need of the hour.

These toilets have no discharge and will be auto controlled. In cases of emergency, ladies do not generally jump off the trains. If I am not wrong, the maximum distance between the two stations is not more than 10 km. For slow local travelling at a regular average speed of 40–60 km/hr, it hardly takes less than 10 minutes to reach the next station. So practically, it’s possible to get down within 12–15 minutes and find the toilet if they are around. Local trains are meant for the short distance and for carrying an overload of commuters. If we have to implement toilets in each bogie, we will decrease the number of total travelling passengers by around 40–50 per bogie.

Also, another point to consider is the operating cost. If you know the fact that the Indian Railways is already running in a loss. It only earns 56 per cent of the total operating cost. So, adding one more overload would add to more troubles. So it’s very well thought by the Indian Railways. Local trains are meant for short distance travel and are generally operated within a city. Any passenger travels for a maximum duration of an hour in these trains. For such a small duration, there is no necessity for the restrooms inside the coaches. Instead, they can use the restrooms at the stations, once they reach the destination. Also, the restrooms occupy a significant space inside the coach. These trains are generally crowded and the passengers need more space inside the coach to accommodate themselves. So, the restrooms are not provided inside the local trains to create more space.

The local trains start early in the morning and reach their depot late in the night. During the duration of the run, the coaches cannot be attended to by the maintenance staff. So, even if these coaches are provided with restrooms, they will become a mess and the passengers would feel it burdensome to travel in such coaches. It’s because the local train is a means for all the people (probably many) to connect to various places around a city, the BMC has proposed to replicate Pune’s ‘Ti’ Toilet concept by turning an old bus into a toilet only for women with “Ti Toilets”. BMC approached some of the creators of Pune’s ‘Ti’ Toilet concept, Sara Plast India Limited to supply, install and operate the facility. In its letter to the company, BMC listed a few compliance conditions viz. space, water and electricity connections will be provided and costs for the same will also be borne by them for a year, the ‘Ti’ bus’ drainage line will also be provided by BMC and permission would be given to make it a pay-and-use model with a charge of Rs. 5 per person per use. Other conditions included permission to sell packaged products and female hygiene products at the toilet and advertise on the outside of the bus to generate revenue. The revenue sharing model, however, would be such that 90 per cent would go to the operator and 10 per cent to the BMC. A civic official said that it would be required that the entire advertising revenue be credited to BMC that will then reimburse 90 per cent of the charges to the operator within a month. “In the beginning, the bus will be stationed at one spot. But in the future, the BMC plans to have such a facility moving around Mumbai. The facility will have a female attendant, sanitary napkin disposal machines, WiFi, LED screens for social messages and sanitizer sprays for western toilets. Officials said there will also be a digital feedback machine so that they know whether women are satisfied with the facility or not.

After decades with regard to the number of toilets for men and women, here comes a ray of hope as new public toilets in Mumbai will have a standard 50-50 ratio for both the sexes. As of now, there was only one toilet for women while men had three. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is going to build 22,774 new toilets in the next year and a half and 50 per cent or more than 11k toilets will be available for women. As per the latest data received by the Praja Foundation through RTI, there is 66 per cent disparity between toilets for men and women. There are 9,646 public toilets for men whereas, for women, the number is just 3,237. The study showed that the island city which spreads from Colaba to Wadala has a huge floating population and has the maximum amount of disparity. The BMC has been building more public toilets in the last two to three years but the disparity has not been diminished. “Now, the civic body is building 22,774 toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission out of which 50 per cent will be for women as per the new guidelines. In January, the civic body had passed an order to construct 14,097 toilets at a cost of Rs 422 crore. Now, the BMC is in the process of handing over a contract for another 1,729 toilets at a cost of Rs 75 crore.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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