Written by Jayali Wavhal
Three months after the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) installed its first set of e-toilets across Pune, local residents are coming forward with multiple grievances against them. The e-toilets are designed with a self-automated hygiene mechanism to make them hassle-free for users. The toilet is unlocked after the user inserts a coin, and flushes itself before and after every use. Also, after a few uses, the floors are automatically cleaned up.
A user needs to insert a coin of Re 1, Rs 2, 5 or 10 to unlock the door and use the toilet. However, Aishwarya Shinde, a student of Fergusson college, said this feature didn’t quite work out while she was trying to use the e-toilet on F C Road, opposite Roopali Hotel. “We can’t use toilets in our college after 6 pm, so I walked to the e-toilet here. I inserted the Re 1 coin, as instructed, but the door didn’t unlock. I tried two or three times more with a Rs 2 coin, but the door didn’t unlock until I inserted the Rs 10 coin, which is a ridiculous amount to pay for using a public toilet,” she said.
Once the door is unlocked and the user has occupied the e-toilet, a red light is supposed to flash outside the door, notifying others that the toilet is in use. But when Rahul Bhujbal, owner of a stationary shop, tried to use the e-toilet located in Model Colony, he also faced some difficulty. “I waited outside the e-toilet for a couple of minutes as the red light was on. After 7-10 minutes, I realised that there was no one inside and the red light was on due to some technical glitch,” he said.
Similar complaints were reported by others who used the e-toilets installed on J M Road and S B Road. Jagruti Katkar, a student of Ranade Institute, said the floor of the toilet was not strong enough to sustain a heavy weight. The metal floor of the toilet had already developed a few dents,and that led to accumulation of water, she said.
Initially, the PMC had plans to install 17 e-toilets, of which 11 are currently functioning. The civic body plans to install four more sets of e-toilets. While the e-toilets are clean and hygienic, the experience of using them is not quite hassle-free. Dnyaneshwar Molak, head of the PMC’s solid waste management department, said, “We were unaware of these issues with the newly-installed e-toilets. Coins not being accepted and red lights flashing outside an unoccupied toilet seem to be technical issues. We will soon inspect these toilets and fix the problems…”.