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How a toilet campaign changed lives, helped women in Telangana’s Narayanpet

2023-12-03 19:35:04source:xsn

Until 2021, the three municipalities of Telangana’s Narayanpet district – Narayanpet, Kosgi, and Makthal—had no public toilets. The 280 gram panchayats of the district didn’t have any either.

How a toilet campaign changed lives, helped women in Telangana’s Narayanpet

That changed when a ‘toilet on wheels’ was set up in Narayanpet, an initiative that helped the district achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) status and won the administration an award for ‘Best Municipality’ in the country.

How a toilet campaign changed lives, helped women in Telangana’s Narayanpet

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The mobile toilet is the brainchild of former Narayanpet District Collector Harichandana Dasari, who is among the 19 winners of The Indian Express Excellence in Governance Awards for 2020 and 2021.

How a toilet campaign changed lives, helped women in Telangana’s Narayanpet

The biennial awards celebrate the finest work done by district magistrates, women and men considered the foot-soldiers of governance as they script change that touches the lives of countless people across the country. Harichandana won the award in the Public Amenities category.

The mobile toilet, set up specifically for women, was set up on a discarded Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) bus. The toilet, also called ‘pink’ or ‘she’ toilet, is usually parked at the Kosgi bus stand.

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“Such is the demand for the ‘toilet on wheels’ that we receive calls from across the district requesting us to send it whenever there is a local fair or festival so that women can use it. The Kosgi bus stand still does not have a public toilet, but we send it based on the requests of organisers of festivals and other other public functions,” says Kosgi Municipal Commissioner M Poornachander.

The mobile toilet with four washrooms, which was set up at a cost Rs 10 lakh, uses less water as it is fitted with bio-digesters, and has solar panels that makes it energy efficient. “The women-only toilet ensures safety and security for women at public places,’’ M Ratna, a sanitation worker at the Kosgi bus station, said.

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Notably, the work of then District Collector Harichandana Dasari, who was posted to Narayanpet in February 2020 and transferred on October 9, 2022, is visible. More than 11,000 low-cost cylindrical toilets –many of them for women– were built across the district during the period.

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District Collector Koya Sree Harsha said that all the toilets are being maintained by sanitation workers. “Local artists decorated these toilets built at bus stops and markets with colourful paintings and designs. All the units are being maintained well and more units are being built across the district to improve public sanitation facilities,’’ he said. The toilets were built at a cost of Rs 15,000 per unit using concrete manhole rings, which were fixed atop an underground pit.

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To achieve ODF tag, the district administration tried different models including mobile toilets, ring toilets set up at primary and community health centres, government hospitals, markets and main streets, and prefab toilets set up in schools and other public places. Officials said that the criteria for Swachh Bharat were taken as parameters in the district towards creating public amenities. Replicating it, 190 municipalities across Telangana have come up with mobile toilets for women and the model came for special mention and praise from Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

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The pink mobile toilets were also recognised as one of the best initiatives under the Swachh Bharat Mission 2020.

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