Even though Hyderabad has a considerable numbers of public toilets for its residents to use, women continue to refrain from using these facilities due to the lack of maintenance. To resolve this issue, a Hyderabad-based innovator named Sushma Kalempudi has introduced the concept of 'Mobile She Toilets'. There have been numerous reports about dirty toilets that lack basic facilities like water and drainage. Finding a clean washroom in urban areas continues to be a difficult task for many, especially women. Installing improvised public toilets seems to be a persistent problem even after both the Centre and state governments joined hands to implement various programmes for the same reason.
Even as data provided by the state government proves the existence of numerous public toilets in the city, women continue to remain hesitant to use these them, stating reasons about lack of maintenance and inadequate facilities. Sushma initially thought of distributing sanitary napkins to women. However, many NGOs were already doing the same. To raise funds for the project after designing the entire concept and functionality, Sushma submitted the blueprint to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), the state and Central governments, and over 50 corporate CSR wings seeking funds. Thanks to their approval, numerous functional mobile public toilets are making their rounds in the city. The TSRTC and the GHMC introduced Sushma's initiative by converting old vehicles into portable washrooms.
Focused On Handing Over 25 Toilets
In an interview with The Indian Express, Sushma conveyed that she too was hesitant to use public toilets due to the unavailability of clean public washrooms in Hyderabad while working for an IT firm. She said, "After coming back to India from the US in 2017, I started researching for a suitable technology to address this issue. I visited crowded areas in the city and realized that there was a need to introduce 'Mobile She Toilets' that can easily wade through crowded areas." The creative innovator is now focused on handing over 25 'Mobile She Toilets' to the GHMC within six months. The toilets designed by Sushma are singular-use ones and are set up on electric auto-rickshaws. These vehicles even have the convenience of being halted and completely recharged in crowded places. The compact ability and size of the vehicles make it easier to park them anywhere as per ease. Adding to this, each vehicle will be operated and maintained by a woman.
Luckily, Sushma's husband, Sudheer, and his family are working on manufacturing electric vehicles. Hence, it was easy for them to come together and build electric rickshaws for 'Mobile She Toilets'. The cost of producing each vehicle is ₹ 4 lakh and it accommodates a flush and a washbasin. It also comprises a drainage system that can carry 100 litres and an exhaust system, a hanger and a mirror. As reported by the Indian Express, Sushma is planning to install GPS tracking devices, install diaper changing stations, sanitary napkin dispensers, and power charging sockets in these toilets. And as per the details provided, disposing of the waste is hassle-free and effortless as it can be done at any fuel station. While this initiative remains a blessing for women on the streets looking to use clean and sanitized washrooms, these mobile toilets will also provide employment opportunities to women. These efforts help in providing clean toilets to women in congested and crowded parts of the city.
Hyderabad has been revolutionary in bringing about a change in public toilet facilities. In the past, the city was in the limelight for dirty, stinking toilets that no one can use, let alone women. It is vital to make more and more women feel comfortable using public toilets as many of them are employed in professions that require mobile washroom facilities. These toilets will ensure that women have access to clean washrooms regardless of being in crowded areas that lack basic washroom facilities. Citizens across the city have complained about a lack of clean toilets for a very long time. GHMC has received numerous complaints to improvise on the public toilets and this is one such initiative that has seen a positive response from the authorities and the women citizens. Public toilets can be used as a space to carry out critical public services other than just a space to relieve oneself. Having clean and sanitized toilets would encourage people to use these public toilets more often. Some reports suggest those suffering from anxiety attacks and other mental health issues seek refuge in public toilets to relieve themselves.
Many even use these restrooms for breastfeeding their little ones. It also offers pregnant women and disabled citizens a place to relieve themselves when the home is a little too far away. Keeping all of the earlier points in mind, the concept and innovation of 'Mobile She Toilets' is life-changing for many women in the city. Unusable public toilets across the city were becoming an issue for all the citizens. At the same time, this is a progressive step towards ensuring better facilities across the city, though a lot more work needs to be done to ensure all public toilets continue to remain in good and usable condition for males. As stated in a previous report, out of the 350 public toilets, 230 are managed by Sulabh, 97 are prefabricated toilets, and a few "loo cafes" are primarily located in high tech metropolitan areas and 34 she-toilets.