Written by Sanjana Bhalerao
“Invest in emotional triggers rather than rational triggers like better health and sanitation in getting citizens to use toilets,” said Jack Sim, founder of World Toilet Organisation (WTO) on the sidelines of the World Toilet Summit in Mumbai on Monday, observed as World Toilet Day.
Citing the Akshay Kumar-starrer Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (in which the patriarch of the house only agrees to construct toilets after his mother needs it), Sim said that to bring about a behaviour change in the society, the government needs to target the emotional aspect to convince people to construct toilets inside their houses and use them.
Talking about a city like Mumbai, Sim said: “Design, accessibility and community engagements will go a long way.”
The WTO, a Singapore-based, global not-for-profit organisation, held the 18th edition of the World Toilet Summit in the city with the theme ‘Can the World be Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2030’.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, through a video address, said: “Maharashtra has become 100 per cent ODF, 55 per cent of which has been covered since 2014. We are encouraging village panchayats by presenting awards and involving children in awareness drives.”
The financial capital also declared itself ODF earlier this year. However, ‘toilet seat deficit’ presents a different picture. As per the Mumbai civic body, the deficit in toilet seats in the city is 22,774. Of the 22,774, the civic body aims to build 1,734 toilet seats by March 2019. The civic body follows the ratio of one toilet seat per 30 men and one toilet seat per 25 women in calculating this deficit.
The ratio was 1:50 toilet seats earlier. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has estimated the cost of construction to be Rs 536 crore in the next three years. As of November 15, the civic body has built 2, 819 toilet seats as opposed to the target of 5,170 seats this year. Between 1997 and 2018, the BMC has built 14,369 toilets seats in the city.