‘e-Toilets’ Gone ‘e-Waste’! Two Out of Five Not Working Within One Month?
‘e-Toilets’ (Electronic/Eco-Toilets) Gone ‘e-Waste’? (Economically-Waste?). Out of five new e-toilets that were inaugurated on 11 July in the Mangaluru, of which two e-toilets meant for Men use are not working- and the funny part is that Team Mangalorean has caught on camera men urinating behind/around these e-toilets- and these men are saying, Why do we need e-Toilets, when we have o-Toilets which are more hygienic?? (Open-Toilets?) So what good is it to spend Rs 6 lakh on each of these e-Toilets, which don’t work within a month of installation- instead the same amount spent on these e-Toilets could have been used to build regular toilets (with attendants in charge), and many commuters would have used the facilities without any hesitance.
Mnagaluru: July 11, 2017 was a day that history was made in Mangaluru and big noise was made in various media/publication about the introduction of ‘e-Toilet’ -India’s first unmanned Electronic Public Toilet, which is portable, eco-friendly and hygienically maintained with a GPRS-enabled system, monitoring the toilet remotely. Eram Scientific Solutions who are the people behind this e-Toilet had named this e-toilet ‘Delight’. Okay, that was good news for Kudla, and everyone welcomed these five new e-Toilets in Mangaluru with great delight and enthusiasm, joined by MCC Mayor, other MCC Officials, MLA JR Lobo, HPCL honchos, representatives of Eram Scientific Solutions, VIP’s and media personnel.
But sadly after a month these e-Toilets have not become a hit in Mangaluru ( since they are only few of them here), like they have been in other mega cities like Bengaluru, Chennai etc. Even though the coastal city and educational hub made an attempt at a hi-tech solution to an age-old problem, the introduction of these 5 e-toilets– which are fully automated and even equipped with GPS system to prevent misuse, seems like has not been welcomed with much fanfare, as HPCL and MCC are planning to add more e-Toilets across the city in the nearest future. However, these 5 e-toilets erected at the present locations are not attracting any customers-instead they should have been installed in crowded areas such as State Bank Bus Stand area, KSRTC Bus Stand Area-Bejai, Hampankatta Area, Jyothi stretch etc which see a large transitory population, but remain uncovered.
While the existing facilities have been lauded by a few users, but many have expressed displeasure and are criticizing the MCC for their improper plans, without looking into the real locations and real needs of the commuters. Even though the E-toilet was conceived with an aim to address the issues associated with traditional public toilets– namely, non availability of water, power, manpower, lack of maintenance and sustainability. The serious dearth of personnel was another important pain-point, often hindering sustained service to the users. Moreover, public toilets that are constructed with government funds are closed within a short time, due to lack of a sustainable income model. But unfortunately, it seems like the e-Toilet facilities is not clicking so well here in Mangaluru.
Among the two e-Toilets at Kadri Park area, one of them is not working (no green light comes on and you can’t insert money for it to function), the other one is dirty inside (see photo), there are wires hanging loose around these toilets. The two e-toilets at Lalbagh Bus Shelter, near MCC -of which men e-toilet is out of order-no green light-even ladies e-toilet is dirty inside (see pic). The single e-Toilet at University Evening College, on the Mangaluru Central Railway station road, the inside part of the toilet is dirty, and heap of garbage is surrounding this e-Toilet. And a old-man was peeing right behind the e-Toilet. (see pic) Why would anyone set up a hygienic e-Toilet near a garbage dump? Doesn’t make any sense to me nor you readers, I suppose.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, a morning walker near Kadri Park said, “It is difficult to make people understand the importance of an e-Toilet. They are so used to the idea of a mop and a cleaning lady, and are used to regular kind of toilets. They are not accustomed towards these kind of fancy toilets, where you have to insert coins etc etc. Another challenge MCC had flunked in not finding appropriate locations to install these e-Toilets. These e- toilet need to be easily accessible and at places where it is very much desperately needed. It’s true that these e-toilets have quite a few options, options to use reduced amount of water and a sensor-enabled system to conserve water and electricity usage. In spite of all this, interrupted supply of electricity and water often affect their smooth functioning. And that’s what you are seeing with these e-toilets here. Some already stop working, looks like money drown the toilet? What Mangaluru needs in future is simple and regular toilets which could be accessible by every common man, and not just the rich and highly educated who the time to insert money and play all the games”.
Ever since these 5 e-toilets have been set up in Mangaluru, there has been no awareness on them, other than news in media when they were launched. Many don’t even know what these blue kiosks are for. The foremost challenge was to make people understand the e-toilet, which wasn’t done by the MCC nor the e-toilet company. Since this e- toilet is completely automated, technology phobia was evident in the early stages of the initiative, but unless these e-toilet don’t receive much media hype and government support, the initial reluctance has turned to just curiosity.
Many don’t know how to use these e-toilets, since they have been used to regular kind of toilets or have been going for the nature’s call in open. When most of the people avoid using public toilets due to their bad conditions, this technology should have changed the scenario of public sanitation here, but it doesn’t look like its happening. e-Toilets alone cannot fix the sanitation problem, but authorities should come up with much better system to handle the sanitation issue. The other point is that no one wants to dirty their hands. -this field is often looked down by people and no one wants to work extensively here. Someone who wants to do a similar project needs to be passionate about what he/she is doing.
In Conclusion, lack of toilets has resulted in defecation in open places, which has created a major sanitary problem. With increased awareness among the people, the government and a number of organizations should come up with public urinals and toilets in various areas. However, most of these public toilets have not been able to live up to the hygienic standards required in a urinal. Most of these toilets remain out of use. People also hesitate to use these toilets because these are very dirty and unhygienic. Hence, new and innovative solutions are required for the betterment of these public toilets.
Installation of e-toilets is indeed an effective step towards the creation of urban sanitation infrastructure to create a better quality of life for citizens and tourists. The basic concept of e-toilet offers a full cycle approach in creating a sustainable sanitation by combining mechanical, electronics and web-mobile technologies for remote monitoring of the entry, usage, exit, cleaning and sterilization. The portable e-toilets also generate revenue. But how far would these e-toilet in the City will serve the purpose, until then its all History? In future, to cater to the toilet needs of the public, I think the ‘common toilet’ will surely benefit the ‘common man’.
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