Just when you thought the city of Pune will never see clean and hygienic public toilets for women, two Pune based entrepreneurs step in to resolve this imminent need…
‘Ti’ that stands for ‘Toilet Integration’ for her (Ti means her in Marathi) was born when these founders of a portable sanitation company decided to collaborate with the Pune Municipal Corporation and the Smart City Initiative to efficiently revamp scrapped public buses into a makeshift sanitation centre.
Ulka Sadalkar and Rajeev Kher, experts in the sanitation industry with over two decades of experience narrowed down their years of learning and skills to come up with these ‘Pink Mobile Buses’.
These buses are placed at 12 different spots in the city to give women access to clean, safe, hygienic restrooms.
“In 2016, when we suggested the idea of placing mobile toilets across the city for women that are both easier and faster to install, the Municipal Commissioner of Pune, heading the Smart City Initiative was quick to respond. These toilets address the basic need of women who are out on work and need clean and hygienic toilets.
“The corporation at that time was also discarding and checking options to recycle old buses. After a session of brainstorming, they accepted the idea and made these buses readily available to us. The discarding and recycling of these buses would have actually costed them much more.
Various corporates also agreed to come on board to fund us on this initiative. With the help of the municipality we were able to get permissions to setup the entire structure and get water and drainage connections.
Eventually In 2016, we were able to set up the first ‘Ti Swasthyagruha’ Toilets (Pink Bus Toilets).
To make the toilets attractive and welcoming, we painted the buses in Pink (also associated with breast cancer awareness) to let women know that it was for them.”
Other than being equipped with western and Indian toilets, these solar powered buses are equipped with wash basins, a nursing/ breast-feeding room, a diaper changing station and sanitary napkins that are offered for sale.
The toilets are essentially open from 8 AM to 8 PM in line with the caretaker’s duty hours. The charges are Rs 5 per usage.
Some buses have extraordinary footfalls that go up 300 sometimes and on an average it ranges from 60-100 every day.
“Parked alongside some of the restrooms in a separate unit, there is a café providing packaged food, a consulting room and a laundromat under the “Ti Swatantrya” initiative too. The laundromat is fitted with the latest equipment and technology and there are also tentative plans to introduce an App to make paying at the laundromat easier. To learn more about the laundry pay app, you can visit this page. This essentially provides a time out for the women from their daily chores at home.
The buses currently can be spotted in places with high footfall like Sambhaji Park, Shaniwar wada, Shivajinagar bus stop, Balewadi opp D-Mart, Wanowari, Baner, Vishrantwadi bus stop, Anandnagar main road, Bhopodi etc which can be navigated on the google maps as well.
The buses also have free WiFi and are also GPRS enables since we wanted to move away from just being a toilet to a more social place where people can come and hangout in the small café next door.
“Our motive to come up with such an endeavour was to provide running water, lights, proper doors and cleanliness.
Additionally, we wished to make these easily accessible and functional right through, which is the major concern now with portable toilets across the country.
This is why we primarily opted for a service model and despite costs being quite steep to make and maintain these toilets, we were keen to be able to provide this quality public service in the city,” adds Ulka Sadalkar.
Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @KaurKaur18
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