Thiruvananthapuram: In the city, you could be caught off guard if a friend asks if there is a washroom nearby. If your friend is a female, then you had it! Have you ever thought why we are at a loss when the government and the municipality are competing with each other to build toilets?
A group of architects in Thiruvananthapuram has found the answer for you. Named Recycle Bin, the group attempted to find out the condition of the washrooms in the city with the help of the public and the municipal corporation in the past four months.
They visited 30 washrooms and got 30 different stories that could easily be made into 30 novels! Now, a look into their toilet journey.
The team members of the Recycle Bin -- Ganga, Gitanjali, Meenakshi, Harikrishnan and Devi -- went on a tour to different parts of the country. No hotel bookings were done and they relied on bus stands and public toilets.
This is how they started their study into the washrooms. They started mapping the washroom in Thiruvananthapuram after they returned from their tour. At one stage, when they posted an ad in Facebook for toilet readers, they got great response and support.
Their aim was to assess a toilet the same way a book is read. They have kept a picture book of 30 washrooms that includes their condition, rating etc. Now, they are planning a washroom awareness drive to teach people how to use toilet and draw up a toilet master plan to design new washrooms.
» If a five-star rating is introduced, not even one washroom will get two stars
» Even municipal authorities don't know what is happening to toilets
» Since the management of toilets are sub-contracted, no one takes any responsibility
» In most places, not even one per cent of the toilets are usable
» Design defects won't provide safety to women at most places
» Santhi Kavadam: A person is living in the upper storey of the toilet complex. His household stuff takes up the entire upper storey. Below, empty liquor bottles are heaped on the floor. Since it is difficult to be spotted, no one knows there is a washroom at Santhi Kavadam.
» Barton hill, Kunnukuzhy: Since the place is in layers washrooms are at different heights. Through the ventilation of the washroom on top, one can see the inside of the washroom below. Because of this the three washrooms for women are unusable.
» East Fort bus stop: There is a water tank in the middle of the washroom where men are bathing almost all the time. Because of this, washrooms built for women are unused. Out of 12 washrooms, only two are usable. Even for men, only three out of 16 washrooms are operational because they face the walkway.
» Chala: When they reached there for inspection, they were told that girls are not allowed inside. It could collapse any time. Until a year ago, it was used to store potatoes and onions.
» Petta fish market: The stink from the fish market waste can easily match the stink from the washroom. When they tried to hold their nose, the person standing next said, "It is clean now. By afternoon it will get dirtier." Most washrooms here are unusable.
» Bedical college: When enquired about the washroom, they were told that it used to be a washroom. Not anymore. A cool bar runs out of it now.
» Edapazhanji: Most of them are locked. Those taking care of the washrooms were wondering why the team members were there. All the three washrooms are not usable.
A toilet app
Now, no one needs to look around for a washroom. Toilets are a click away with the help of an app called 'Kakoos'. All the washrooms in the city have been mapped by Recycle Bin with the help of the public.
A person who is downloading the app can add a new toilet if he happens to find one. The toilets can be categorized into public, e-toilets, hotels etc.
The app will also show who can use the toilets and what facilities are available. Above these, the toilets can be rated taking into account their accessibility, cleanliness, maintenance frequency, safety etc.
Information collected until November 19 was handed over to the government. They are also planning photography and poster making contests with washrooms as a subject.