Why does Delhi have no public e-toilets?

- July 15, 2022
| By : Patriot Bureau |

Delhi will have to wait for e-toilets as the municipal administration prioritise building and renovating primary public toilets across the state

An e-toilet for ladies in Pune (Photo: Getty)

With its large population, Delhi tries to provide all the necessary civic infrastructure to its residents, keeping the goal of a sustainable environment and the available modern facilities in mind. Delhi Metro, which was started in 2002, is considered avant-garde in civic infrastructure, because not only does it save time, energy and money, but also makes things convenient for the hustling crowd of the city.

Yet, while municipal administration of cities like Bengaluru, Kolkata, Pune and Chennai have introduced e-toilets no less than three to five years ago, Delhi municipal corporations are yet to join these metropolises. A Kerala-based company, Eram Scientific Solutions, installed six e-toilets in Delhi in 2014. The toilets were located at CG Hospital, Manekshaw Marg, Gopinath Bazar, Arjun Vihar, Delhi Milk Supply and Central Ordnance Depot. However, no e-toilet has been installed by the Delhi municipal corporations as of yet. 

What are e-toilets?

E-toilets, or electronic toilets, are public sanitation facilities integrated with user-friendly electronic interfaces that ensure hygienic surfaces and cleanliness for every user. In India, their increase was concurrent with the Swach Bharat Abhiyan which aimed at reducing open defecation. 

To use an e-toilet, a user has to insert a coin to unlock the door. One can use Rs. 2 or Rs. 5 coins to insert into the coin slot. Once inside, a red light flashes at the top of the door outside, indicating that the toilet is in use. Since the toilet works on sensors, it releases a certain amount of water to clean the bowl depending on how much water is required. After the user exits the toilet, the toilet again releases water to flush the surface and keep it clean for the next user. Such a self-automated hygiene mechanism is supposed to make the experience hassle-free for users. 

Why are there no e-toilets in Delhi?

When Patriot contacted the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) office to understand the absence of e-toilets in Delhi, a sanitation inspector, on condition of anonymity, said, “We are still mapping out the need to build basic toilets in the rural areas. It is currently taking time due to many obstacles, one of which is waiting to get approvals from both state and central governments.  Once the primary toilets are built in accordance with the Swach Bharat Abhiyan, the municipal corporations will certainly introduce e-toilets for the people. We do not want to stay behind on technology, especially in the public sector.”

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in November 2019, over one-third of the public toilets in Delhi are unusable. While east Delhi had 76 unusable pubic toilets, north corporation and Delhi Cantonment had 40 and 30 unusable toilets respectively. Only 12.5% of the public toilets in Delhi received the excellent tag, with South Delhi having most of them. The various factors considered for this survey were clean setas, wash basins, cubicles, on-site safe sanitation system, light points, mirrors, and so on. 

The sanitation inspector stated that the municipal corporations are currently prioritising the work to improve these numbers by building toilets and cleaning and maintaining the ones that already exist. “Delhi will have to wait for e-toilets. It may take at least three years before we install the first e-toilet, and that is only if the work to build and renovate primary public toilets goes smoothly, with fewer obstacles”, he states.  

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