The State got its first solar, sensor-based toilets, with the Tambaram municipality installing three units at the junction of Duraiswamy Reddy Street and GST Road on Wednesday.
‘Namma toilets’, the user-friendly units made of fibre reinforced polymer material, were inaugurated by animal husbandry minister T.K.M. Chinnayya at an event that also saw the participation of Tambaram municipality chairman M. Karikalan. The initiative is a pilot project in Tamil Nadu.
The toilet blocks have a stall each for elderly women and women with physical disabilities, one for men and another for women.
The lighting in all the stalls is based on solar energy, and the stalls have sensors that are connected to the lighting system. When the sensors detect movement, the lights automatically switch on. They switch off when the user has left, thereby helping in energy conservation.
Officials of the Tambaram municipality said the project was designed and initiated by the Commissionerate of Municipal Administration for residents to have access to clean and hygienic toilets, and to ensure that by 2023, the locality was free of open defecation.
The design of the toilets was developed in six months to cater to all user groups. A study on cultural appropriateness in the State by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, also helped in the development of the design, officials said.
The toilets have several advantages over the conventional 12 existing toilets in Tambaram. Besides being corrosion-free, the toilets have two digesters to process waste and release sewage into the existing network after processing it.
S. Sivasubramanian, Tambaram municipal commissioner said that each of the three toilets cost around Rs. 70,000.
“People will not be charged for using these toilets. Two workers will be deployed to clean and maintain the toilets, and they will be open round the clock,” he said.
The municipality plans to tie up with private institutions for maintenance. From April, the toilets will be maintained by IDBI bank.
Mr. Sivasubramanian said that there were plans to extend the ‘Namma toilets’ facility to Nehru Nagar, KK Palayam, Mullai Nagar and GST Road soon. These areas will be provided with units comprising two toilets.
The facility will then be extended to other parts of Tambaram and across the State, after a team of experts, including those from Industrial Design Centre, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, completes a study and validates user experience in Tambaram.
The Commissionerate of Municipal Administration is also chalking out plans to establish a waste-water treatment plant to ensure the safe disposal of waste.