Coin-operated 'she-toilets' set to make it to Mumbai

Back from a visit to Kerala, the first state to have such toilets, BMC officials plan to install coin-operated stainless steel toilet booths in the city in about a month’s time

Back from Kerala where they saw the concept in action, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Solid Waste Management (SWM) department officials are planning to soon start ‘she-toilets’ in Mumbai for women.

A picture of a she-toilet from a brochure. The toilets will have an attached bacterial tank in which the waste will undergo biodegradation and only water will be left
A picture of a she-toilet from a brochure. The toilets will have an attached bacterial tank in which the waste will undergo biodegradation and only water will be left

Last month, a team of engineers from the department had gone to Kerala for a day’s visit, to understand the concept of these women-friendly she-toilets. Mumbai has a poor record in terms of public toilets for women. There are very few toilets available for women and they mostly have unhygienic conditions.

The she-toilets are technology driven and Kerala was the first state to introduce the concept three years ago. She-toilets consist of stainless steel toilet booths which have a coin-operated door, a sanitary napkin vending machine, an incinerator to burn the napkins and automatic flush.

The most important feature of she-toilets is an attached bacterial tank in which the waste will undergo biodegradation and only water will be left. The civic body has decided to go ahead with a pilot project in 11 locations in the island city.

The SWM department is in the process of finalising the locations where these toilets can be set up in about a month’s time. SWM department’s Executive Engineer, U A Shiroorkar had gone to Kerala on January 24 with other engineers to understand the project.

“We will start the project at 11 locations and the aim is to benefit the floating population like office goers or travelling women. Setting up one 4X4 stainless steel toilet will cost us from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 10 lakh and if it is properly maintained then it will last at least 20 years,” said Shiroorkar.

Processing waste
Talking about the tanks attached to these toilets, Shiroorkar added, “The bacterial tank is developed by DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) for the military. Due to the bacteria in the tank, the complete solid form of waste will be processed and only liquid will remain.”

In Mumbai this technology will help in many ways. For instance, if BMC wants to construct toilets, there are several hurdles to cross such as permissions like CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) clearance to ensure the solid waste is not directly discharged into sea.

A SWM department official added, “The plus point of setting up she-toilets is that there will be no issue of CRZ clearance, as after biodegradation, the water that remains will be discharged into the sea. Also this water can be used for gardening.”

The she-toilets
>> With complete stainless steel 4X4 structures, she-toilets will have a coin-operated door, sanitary napkin-vending machine, incinerator to burn the napkins and auto flush.

>> These toilets will have aerobic or anaerobic bacterial tanks, which will process the solid waste and only liquid will remain. With the help of this feature BMC will be able to set up more she-toilets, as many permissions for sewerage connections may not be needed since only the water will be let into the sea. In case of constructed toilets, many permissions are needed regarding sewerage connections to ensure the solid waste is not thrown into the sea.

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