#puneonmymind: Rajeev Kher, founder and CEO, SaraPlast on how Pune can lead India’s public sanitation revolution
Public toilets have always been an ire and an eyesore in the city. They are looked upon as stink bombs and known to be smelly and very unhygienic. The mention of ‘public toilet’ makes us cringe and hold our noses because we have all at some point in time experienced one either by way of using it in desperate times, or even as passersby.
We have now a mindset that all public loos are dirty and smelly.
What can we do to change this? Changing the mindset of people will take a very long time, but this needs to be done. How does one go about it?
After spending some 20-odd years as a “sanipreneur” and running my firms 3S and Sara Plast with a successful impact, I believe we are now able to understand, with considerable depth, what it could take to revolutionise toilets in India.
There are three things that help us achieve this:
a) Don’t call a toilet a toilet; e.g. “Ti” (toilet integration) is a new restroom innovation by 3S in Pune
b) Make sure it smells super nice and is clean like a 5 star hotel washroom
c) It is not only a toilet, but also a kiosk selling coffee, snacks or utilities
We thought deeply about this and then “Ti” took shape: an innovation that encompasses all the above issues and also changes mindsets of what a public toilet could be and how it could offer access and right to sanitation to every citizen.
Under a pilot project, around 12 almost-scrapped buses have been converted to high-end restrooms for women by women entrepreneurs. ‘Ti’ - meaning “her” in Marathi is also an abbreveation for “Toilet Integration”- a smart toilet that is plugged into the Smart City grid. It gives you a host of data ranging from water usage to user profile to even purchases made on the bus and revenue generated on the bus, all in real time.
The concept is not only a great replacement for a constructed public toilet but also a great flexible tool to move as and when needed to areas of higher density to enable the entrepreneuer to look for better opportunities of earning.
In the near future, “Ti” also intends to offer not only an eatery and a utilities desk on board but also a diagnostic collection centre, preventive healthcare promotion facility and also many other creative ideas that improve hygiene and offer wellness to the public.
Imagine, Pune’s new-age public convenience centres will not only have high quality restrooms, but even a spa, ayurvedic store, utilities, dry cleaning pick-up point and a host of household requirements, all available at every nook and corner or via an app specifically made to access and even rate these facilities. The feedback will help ensure high quality cleaning and maintenance and feedback for improvement.
3S hopes that these will be all become operational by the year-end and prove to one and all that this is actually viable and can be a sustainable and viable business model that would not only create opportunities for the needy and the unemployed but also give dignity and respect to the operator or entrepreneur who will run this much-needed facility in Pune, making it an example to follow all over the country. This would be a fitting answer to the stigma of poor sanitation and hygiene that we have created for ourselves.
This will truly bring about a mindset change, make Bharat Swachh and be in line with the national agenda for clean cities and skill development.
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