As Delhi searches for efficient public toilet designs, here's a look at some loos from around the world
Very few things will kill your need to urinate quite like an Indian public toilet. With betel-stained interiors, the lingering smell of the thousands who've come and gone before you and the latch-less doors (or the plain lack of doors), it's no surprise that Indian men prefer standing outside toilets and urinating on public walls. And this is in urbanised, developed areas.
The situation in slums is far, far worse. In Delhi alone, over 675 slum clusters do not have any public toilets, forcing people to defecate in the open. In the rare instances where toilets exist, they quickly end up being vandalised or defunct and unusable, thanks to poor management.
It is no surprise then that the Delhi government, in a bid to set up 10,000 toilets in the city's slum clusters, is trying to avoid old mistakes by doing things differently.
The government has instituted a competition, seeking innovative toilet designs from firms and individuals. The winner of the competition will win a Rs 50,000 cash prize, while the runner-up will earn half that amount. In addition, the winner will be contracted to the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) for a period of six months and earn a salary of Rs 25,000.
The toilet designs will not only have to be economical and durable but will have to have separate arrangements for men and women, efficiently use light and water, ease of hygiene and must be disabled-friendly. It is a laudable step to provide an amenity that should be a basic right, but has traditionally been treated with apathy by a succession of ruling governments.
That being said, the Kejriwal government would do well not to limit their options to the contest entries but, instead, consider these fantastically innovative public toilet ideas from around the world as well.
Text: Ranjan Crasta