State governments are increasingly opting for e-toilets in their buildings as they have the advantage of power flushing, automatic cleaning and sterilisation

This is a bit of news worth sharing, just to confirm that some things have not changed over the centuries. We apparently had our first public toilet in the Mughal era but after two weeks of operations it had to be shut down due to lack of maintenance!

Centuries later, don't we all find a connect with it? Quite easily we can give instances of our public toilets turning from utilities to stinking corners in no time. So when Shanti Joseph, regional manager of a private company, Eram Scientific Solutions (ESS), talks of its stink-proof, automatic model — said to be India's first electronic toilet — you take note. The model, she explains, “is the result of a convergence of electronics, web and mobile technologies, with features like automated doors, power flushing, automatic closet washing and sterilisation, and automatic platform cleaning mechanism, all backed by SMS alerts to inform the control room about the status of the water tank and sewage treatment plant in the event of any errors.”

The e-toilets, called Desire, have already bagged several awards and this week two of them were installed at the Kerala House in Delhi. Shanti says it is just a reflection of public acceptability of their units across Kerala. “Many units have been installed all over Kerala in public places like museums, bus stands, road side, tourist spots, schools, etc. They are funded by the muncipalities, panchayats, district collectors, MPs through their specific funds. We are glad to note that it has received tremendous support from the general public as well as the Kerala Government and the media there,” she says. Kerala Government gives a 50 per cent subsidy to local self governments to install these e-toilets.

Some units have been operational in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and North India as well. “We already have two units in Greater Noida. But we were noticed at the recent Surajkund Mela where two of our units were installed,” she says. Impressed by its efficiency in handling so much traffic, the Haryana Government has a plan to fit them in public places.

In Delhi too, we might see more of them soon. “We are in talks with the MCD, which is carrying out a feasibility study,” says Shanti. The company has different revenue models. “The ones we installed at the Kerala House here are free of cost. But those put up at the Surajkund Mela needed a coin to open the door.” To earn revenue, the exteriors of the e-toilets can also be used for advertising. “Moreover, many might look at toilet cleaning as a work which has low dignity. This model is an answer for it,” says Shanti.

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