An unused building housing a toilet in Madhavaram has now been converted into the area’s Amma canteen

The residents of Madhavaram wanted a toilet. They got a canteen instead.

As there had been no formal inauguration, a building housing a public toilet on Muthumariamman Koil Street, was lying unused. And when Chennai Corporations authorities looked around for a building to start an Amma Canteen, the deserted facility caught their eye.

More than 500 people visit the toilet-turned-canteen in ward 31, but an equal number struggle to cope with the challenges of long queues at public toilets in the locality every morning, said Gopal, a resident of the locality.

The public toilet facility was proposed by the previous councillor of the locality as thousands in the neighbourhood did not have toilets at home.

An existing public toilet on the same road is crowded in the mornings, and there is a need for additional toilets, Gopal said.

Had the previous Congress councillor inaugurated the toilet on time, zonal officials would not have remodelled it to house the Amma canteen. Ten persons could have used the toilet at a time, he said.

Officials tore down the interior of the toilet before shaping it into the canteen that serves around 1,000 idlis a day. Self-help group members who run the eatery generate revenue of around Rs. 2,500 per day.

The Amma canteens are budget eateries that aim to provide healthy food at reasonable prices.

The city now has 200 such eateries across various localities.

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