With an aim to make the city open defecation free under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Thane Municipal Commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal on Wednesday inaugurated the hundredth toilet built under the ‘One Household One Toilet’ initiative of a Pune-based NGO, Shelter Associates. Officials from the Thane civic body said the NGO was constructing the toilets using the corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds in the city. The narrow lanes of the Kranti Nagar settlement in Thane welcomed its hundredth toilet on Wednesday. Mumtaz Khan (55), one of the beneficiaries of the scheme who has lived in the same room in Kranti Nagar for over 40 years, said, “There are two public toilets shared by over a thousand occupants of this settlement. It has become incredibly convenient to have one inside our house, especially for myself and my daughters-in-law.” Khan spent Rs 30,000 on the construction of the toilet.
Shakeela Sheikh (45), another beneficiary, said her elder son was differently abled. “Carrying him to the public toilet four times a day was a big task, as at least two people were required to help him. Now he can independently use the toilet in our house,” said Shaikh.
“The initiative is not just restricted to making the city open defecation free. The project is aimed at providing a toilet to every household in the city apart from the community and group toilets in the areas. It is a continuous process and we are managing to do with help of CSR funds,” said Samir Unhale, additional municipal commissioner.
The NGO connects to the CSR of companies to fund this initiative. For Thane, the funding for 350 toilets has been provided by the CSR wing of Bank of America. The civic chief of Thane Municipal Corporation, who is a partner in the project, is planning to work with the NGO to build 10,000 toilets in Thane by March 2018 and link CSR wings of the corporates to the organisation for the same.
Founded in 1993, the NGO has facilitated the construction of 10,100 toilets in six urban cities in Maharashtra. “As architects, we were very keen on engaging in social housing space. However, we realised that the traditional approach of using spreadsheets and hard copies for analysing data was ineffective, and instead we pioneered a novel technique of using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for poverty mapping. With data and maps combined on this platform, we could immediately recognise our target settlements,” said Joshi.
The organisation carries out an infrastructure mapping survey to learn about the drainage system and water supply in the target settlement. It enters into agreements with households, to aid the construction of toilets. It provides construction material such as bricks, cement, tiles, Orissa Pan (squat style toilet), pipes and a door amongst others, while the household shoulders the labour costs of construction.