Pune’s e-toilets raise a stink; however, Ti-toilets are a major hit with women users

Updated on Mar 07, 2019 02:38 PM IST
E-toilets in the city are not being used by many women due to fears of lack of privacy, and a lack of awareness. Ti-toilets are finding many women users as they are attractive and user-friendly
E-toilets wear a deserted look on JM road with squatters taking up the corner, making the area near it dirty.(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
E-toilets wear a deserted look on JM road with squatters taking up the corner, making the area near it dirty.(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, Pune | ByPrachi Bari

Six months after the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) installed its first set of e-toilets on Jungli Maharaj road , next to Sambhaji garden, residents are coming forward with multiple grievances against these toilets. E-toilets are prefabricated structures made from stainless steel, these toilets have automatic system for access, flushing and even cleaning the floors. These toilets can be operated by inserting a coin.

Aiming to solve the issue of unhygienic and unclean public toilets the PMC installed 14 e-toilets across the city. The e-toilets that were set-up in September 2018 are designed with a self-automated hygiene mechanism to make them hassle-free for users. However, not many women are aware of these e-toilets.

According to Ravi Shinde, a toy vendor outside Sambhaji garden, “Most women visit the garden during the weekend. Some women are tourists and do not know how to use the toilet. These e-toilets wear a deserted look with squatters taking up the corner near the e-toilets. This has made the surrounding areas filthy.” He further added, “Instead many women prefer using the ‘Ti-toilets’, (a special pink colour mobile toilet designed especially for women). These ‘Ti-toilets’ are also located inside the garden.”

Ti-toilets is a posh, re-purposed public lavatory and is a part of the ‘Ti for Toilet’ initiative. Old buses and scrapped buses have been turned into modern and clean toilets for women. These pink bus toilets are equipped with a TV set, two washbasins, a huge mirror, three Indian-style and one western-style toilets. It also includes a small health cafe where one can buy refreshments. Currently, there are 13 such establishments all over Pune.

A few college students who often visit the garden are unaware of these e-toilets. Ashwini Ghare, a student of Garware College said, “I am not aware of the e-toilets set-up by the PMC. I usually avoid using public toilets, but in case of emergencies I use the pink coloured ‘Ti-toilets’ that are set-up inside the garden.”

Nakhshatra Kulkarni, an IT professional, said, “I have never used toilets that have been set-up by the PMC as they are unhygienic. However, I wasn’t aware of these new e-toilets. The PMC should conduct an awareness programme about these e-toilets and also give a demonstration on how to use it.”

Ashwini Naswale, a student of Garware College was aware of this e-toilet but did not know how to use it. She said, “There are no instructions are displayed outside the toilet. All it asks the user to do is to insert a coin; however, the denomination is not mentioned. Also it has a red light to indicate that it has been occupied, but how will one know whether the toilet is clean from the inside.”

Avanti Dhaigude, a student of Fergusson College, had seen one such e-toilet installed near her college but she had similar queries. “Setting up e-toilets is a good initiative installed but I would feel a little embarrassed to use it right in front of so many people crossing the road. I mean it is not discreet nor does it have any signs to state on how to use it unless you are right close to the door,” said Dhaigude.

According to architects and urban planners the positioning of these e-toilets need be discreet. According to Vivek Dixit, an architect, “I appreciate the initiative of installing automatic toilets; however, the location of these e-toilets is the key. One of the solutions could be locating them in public parks instead of on footpaths, which would encourage people to use it more. It has multiple advantages such as privacy, control, maintenance vigilance and recycling of grey water to be used for irrigation of the park. It’s location in public parks will help to improve the cityscape and pedestrian movement and use of footpaths.”

Dyaneshwar Molak, additional municipal commissioner, solid waste management, PMC said, “We have received a mixed response. There are a few cases where people are facing difficulties on how to operate these toilets. The e-toilets are eco-friendly and technically sound. We expect these to be used by a larger segment of women.”

Women prefer the pink-coloured mobile toilets known as Ti-toilets, that look attractive, offer more privacy, and are user-friendly. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
Women prefer the pink-coloured mobile toilets known as Ti-toilets, that look attractive, offer more privacy, and are user-friendly. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

Flush with under-use: Public toilets not so smart for women

Toilets: what’s the ‘e’?

- E-toilets are prefabricated structures made from stainless steel.

- Automatic system for access, flushing and cleaning the floor.

- Users insert a coin in specified slot to open door. The user can insert a coin of any denomination to use the e-toilet.

- Once door opens, sensor-based light system automatically turns on.

- Toilet automatically flushes before and after use with guided audio commands for user.

- Mechanised system cleans the toilet platform after every few users.

- User does not get access to toilet if it is not cleaned.

- Currently, there are 14 e-toilets in the city.

Problems faced by women using e-toilets

- No instructions outside the toilet.

- As these toilets are located on footpaths, privacy worrries.

- Not many women are aware these e-toilets exist.

Toilets: what’s the ‘ti’?

- ‘Ti’ Marathi for ‘her’ toilet.

- Old and scrapped buses have been turned into modern and clean toilets for women.

- These pink bus toilets are equipped with a TV set, two washbasins, a huge mirror, three Indian-style and one western-style toilets.

- It also includes a small health cafe where one can buy refreshments. - Currently, there are 13 such toilets in Pune.

Why women prefer ti-toilets

- More facilities than e-toilets.

- Toilets not located on footpaths; hence, more privacy.

- User-friendly and hassle free.

- Toilets look attractive.

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