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Smart solutions, if implemented well

Toilet twins Municipal Corporation of Delhi has two fresh ideas that will drive the stench away from public conveniences, reports Sidhartha Roy.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2009 23:47 IST
Sidhartha Roy

A public toilet that smells of coffee and flowers or one that doesn’t smell of anything at all?

This might sound alien to anyone who’s ever been forced to use a Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) toilet, but that’s exactly what the civic agency is planning for the Capital.

Delhiites, especially men, are not known for carrying around excess baggage and relieve themselves at the first available opportunity and street corner. A big reason for this is the failure of the city’s civic agencies in providing enough toilet facilities. The toilets that are available stink like hell.

The MCD is planning to upgrade 1,000 of its urinals to waterless ones. Like everything else good being planned for Delhi, this too comes in the wake of Commonwealth Games 2010.

Since proper maintenance of existing public toilets is an issue, it’s a good idea to go for loos that largely take care of themselves. These urinals come with a special cartridge that forms a barrier between the rest room and the drainage system.

This would not only trap foul odour but also save water. A few such urinals are already operational in Delhi and have proved successful.

Another slightly radical loo idea, floated by MCD a month ago, is to build toilets-cum-coffee complexes. The toilet blocks would also have fast food joints and flower shops and the private firms shortlisted to run them would have the responsibility of maintaining these toilets. Advertising too would be allowed on these toilet blocks, bringing in revenue.

Though both sound like smart ideas to find a way around the problem of badly maintained public toilets, some doubt if the MCD would be finally able to implement these.

“What we want is MCD to provide clean toilets with whatever resources are available with them,” said Pankaj Agarwal of the Delhi RWAs Joint Front. “It is one thing to float random ideas and another to actually make them happen. MCD doesn’t have a successful track record in providing any civic facility.”

“Toilets with coffee and ice-cream shops doesn’t make any sense and isn’t seen anywhere in the world,” said Fuad Lokhandwala, proprietor of Fumes International. Lokhandwala is the man behind the plush pay-and-use toilets you see in New Delhi Municipal Council areas. The revenue from advertisements on the toilet walls pay for their upkeep.

“Rather, civic agencies should make restaurants and shops to have toilets and allow them to be used by anyone,” he said.