Sunshine Story: BMC woman bags green award for solar powered loo

Seema Redkar, who works for the Solid Waste Management department, won the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, for building an environment friendly toilet with the help of non-profit organisation Triratna Prerna Mandal

Unclean, unhygienic public toilets are a fact of life in the city, but some people have been working to bring about a change. Their efforts led to the construction of a toilet in Khotwadi, Santacruz (West) in 2002, one of the best examples of an environment friendly public toilet.

Seema Redkar was given the award at a ceremony in New Delhi last month. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Seema Redkar was given the award at a ceremony in New Delhi last month. Pics/Nimesh Dave

It recently got the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The woman behind this project, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officer Seema Redkar was honoured in New Delhi last month. She is the first BMC officer to get such an award.

Women who use the toilet say it is very clean and hygienic and that operators of other public toilets should learn from how it is built and managed
Women who use the toilet say it is very clean and hygienic and that operators of other public toilets should learn from how it is built and managed

Redkar, who works for BMC’s Solid Waste Management department as Officer on Special Duty for communities and ALMs (Advanced Locality Management), built the environment friendly toilet with the help of non-profit organization Triratna Prerna Mandal (TPM).

Jadhav and Redkar on the roof of the toilet, which houses the solar panels
Jadhav and Redkar on the roof of the toilet, which houses the solar panels

The toilet was possibly the first public toilet in Mumbai to have solar panels. It also has ring wells to save water and a sanitary napkin collector in the women’s section. There are a total of 26 toilets in the centre. With the help of the solar panels, the toilet can save more than 50 percent on the electricity bill.

The ring wells help TPM to save around 60-70 per cent water needed in the toilet. The organization also has built a small composting pit near the toilet, where nirmalya (flowers and garlands offered to God) is converted into manure.

“We have put in a lot of effort to transform this abandoned place into a model toilet which is environment friendly. By including a sanitary napkin collector for women, we have set the best example of how the city’s toilets should be. Along with local women from slums, many working women in this area are frequent users of this toilet.

I will donate half of my prize money to the organisation to continue such excellent work,” said Redkar. She received the award (a trophy and Rs 2 lakh) from the ministry on February 2. Speaking to mid-day, executive director of TPM, Dayanand Jadhav, said the place was used for dumping garbage earlier and they converted it into a multi-purpose environment friendly toilet.

He said, “We have received many awards for our model toilet including an international award. In 2007, we got an award from Deutsche Bank. In 2014, Union minister Farooq Abdullah awarded us with the Solar Hero Appreciation award.”

The toilet
The toilet at Khotwadi was built in 2002 and has separate sections for men and women. In 2009 with help of TPM and BMC, for the first time a solar panel was installed for electricity and hot water in the public toilet in Mumbai. Two ring wells in the premises help provide around 6,000 litres of water for all purposes except drinking. The manure converted from the nirmalya is used in a small nursery in a nearby playground.

Voices

Sadhana Prajapati, A resident of a local slum
It is very useful and such types of toilets should be made across Mumbai. The best part of this toilet is it is clean, safe and hygienic.

Tejal Gurav, A resident of Shastri Nagar
This place is women friendly and I found it very clean, which is not the case in other women’s toilets in the city. Others should learn how to operate a toilet and keep it clean this way.

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