Adopting a public toilet in Pune is a small step of giving back to society, says Sanjay Deshpande
One should not depend on the municipal corporation for every civic issue. The city is responsible for my growth and has provided me with many opportunities. I am indebted to do my little bit for the city.pune Updated: Jul 06, 2017 16:12 IST
Clean public toilets and urinals form a crucial part of the basic facilities that a city should provide for people. And Pune falls short with respect to population and access to public toilets. And the existing public toilet units are mostly dirty, lack regular water supply and poorly maintained. City-based developer Sanjay Deshpande has adopted a public toilet at Nal Stop and taken the responsibility to maintain it. He shares with HT his civic responsibilities and initiatives towards causes related to the common man.
What made you adopt a public toilet?
I used to pass by this public toilet located at Nal Stop during my morning walks and was appalled by the stench coming off from this facility. Pedestrians avoided to walk by this stretch because of the foul smell as the toilet was poorly maintained and not cleaned regularly. Then one day I decided that as a responsible citizen I should do something about this toilet.
Did you approach the Pune Municipal Corporation?
No. At that time I had no plan to adopt any toilet. As my profession as a developer required meeting many civic officials, I shared my concern with them. They admitted the poor state of public toilets and cited fund shortage as one of the major reasons. It was then that I started thinking about adopting the toilet with the help of the many NGOs with whom I am associated with.
Share your association with NGOs.
Though I am a civil engineer, I have also done my specialisation in environmental science. I work with many wildlife NGOs like Nature Walk and Parisar. The idea to adopt a public toilet came after working with these social bodies.
The hurdles that you faced while adopting a public toilet.
Initially, the municipal officers, the local corporator and civic officials laughed at my idea to adopt a public toilet. I had to work hard to get their permission even though I was ready to bear all the maintenance charges.
How did you overcome these issues?
I approached the BOT (build operate and transfer) cell of municipal corporation. Timely assistance from Sandip Khardekar, Kavita Sahasrabudhe (corporator) and Suresh Jagtap (former assistant commissioner) helped in completing the legal process for adaptation.
When did you adopt the public toilet at Nal Stop Pune?
After adopting the public toilet on December 24, 2015, I studied the public toilets in India and abroad and how it is maintained, including the toilets in malls, airports and multiplexes. I found that clean public toilets have adequate water facility, walls are tiled, flower beds are planted on the premises and staff to clean it round the clock. My plan was based on these observations.
How do you maintain the adopted toilet?
As water is vital for any public toilet, I had arranged for a tap water pipeline from the municipal corporation with the help of a local corporator. I also tiled the walls to check people from spitting on walls. A water tank was installed on the roof of the toilet for 24x7 water facility and planted a flower bed around the toilet premises. A person was appointed on salary to clean the toilet every one hour and placed a board mentioning the contact number for filing any complaint regarding cleanness or giving suggestions.
The cost to maintain the toilet per month
I have to spend Rs15,000, including Rs 12,000 to the person employed for cleaning purpose, per month to maintain the toilet.
Your observation after adopting the toilet
I am happy with the little change that I managed by adopting the toilet. You only have to visit the toilet to see the remarkable result.
Any plans to adopted more toilets?
No, but I am ready to hand over this toilet to any other person and ready to adopt another one. I have arranged for seats at two bus stops and provided a bench for senior citizens at Shyam Prasad Mukherjee Garden.
Message for Punekars
One should not depend on the municipal corporation for every civic issue. The city is responsible for my growth and has provided me with many opportunities. I am indebted to do my little bit for the city. The city has over 900 public toilets. Pune is a hub of IT industries and if each major firm adopts a public toilet then we can see a remarkable change in the maintenance of this basic facility. Such small steps will help the city progress and develop.