The lack of clean toilets for women in public places makes them going long hours without using these facilities. The state government has tried to maintain public washrooms for women but has failed in its initiative. Even toilets made for women are used by males and reek of feces and urine. The public washrooms are poorly lit and unmanned. Although many toilets are being built under the flagship of the Clean India Programme, but due to lack of water and electricity, they stay unused.
Founders of The Ti Project
Entrepreneurs Rajeev Kher and Ulka Sadalkar launched the project in 2016. The project was named Ti which stands for “Toilet” Project. In the Marathi language, the word Ti stands for her.
Ulka Sadalkar mentioned,
“We were already working on different sanitization projects. We realized that there was a need to build properly sanitized toilets for women. So, we started working on the project. The old buses are usually of no use. We turned these unutilized buses and turned them into good, clean, and safe toilets for women.”
Education and Background
Ulka Sadalkar completed her degree from Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Engineering in Production engineering. She worked in the steel industry for some time. In 2006, she co-founded Saraplast with Rajeev Kher. Rajeev Kher pursued MBA from symbiosis, Pune. He worked in the corporate sector.
Toilet Buses for Women
They launched the first toilet bus in 2016 in the Shivajinagar area. Now there are 12 such buses in the city that operate as toilets for women. The buses are pink. The bus has twelve washrooms that are cleaned daily. Over 200 women use these toilets daily. A moisture and humidity chip made by MIT labs, USA, ensures the bus is free from foul smells. They also converted a small part of the bus into a retail shop. One can also buy packed food from the bus. Items like water and biscuits are available.
Facilities Available in the Toilet Bus
The toilets are affordable. Anyone who wishes to use the bus toilet needs to pay a fee of five rupees. Women can also avail the bus facility to breastfeed babies. One can even purchase sanitary napkins and diapers from the bus. It has installed temperature monitors and television sets inside the bus. They appointed a woman to take care of the bus. The workers of the bus get paid monthly.
They installed washbasins with soap dispensers. In case of emergencies, the panic button is also in place.
A woman mentioned,
“The toilets are spotless and comfortable. It feels safe to use them. Earlier, I used to rush home or stay in a state of discomfort instead of going to a public toilet. But now, I don’t even think twice before using the bus toilet. They regularly clean it and are easily approachable.”
Solar Panels for Electricity
The bus has solar panels. The solar panels are used to power the bus. During the rainy season, when sunlight is not present to run the bus, the makers depend on the city’s electricity board. After the four months of monsoon, the bus again runs on the electricity from the solar panel. The solar panel powers all gadgets.
Ulka and Rajeev stationed the buses in 12 different areas. Usually, the buses don’t move around as it is easier for women to locate them and find them in the same spot every day. It takes an amount of 13-15 lakhs per bus to turn them into toilets for women.
Plans for Future
Ulka mentioned, “I believe women deserve safe and clean toilets. We focused a lot on aesthetics while redesigning the entire bus. It feels good to see that how comfortably women use and prefer the toilet opened by us.” The duo plans to open up to 1000 toilets all across India in the next five years.
If you loved this story, read a story about Rutuchakra, an organization that spreads awareness related to Menstrual Health and Hygiene among women.