Toilet Project: URGENT HELP NEEDED

Our Alumni & Public Toilet for Rural India

by Neil Pundit, PhD, 1961 TC

President, BITSA International

pundit@ieee.org

October 20, 2017

Abstract & Summary: After some 700 public toilets, KPS Foundation has discontinued its

matching funding for our alumni sponsored Public Toilet projects for Rural India. Currently there

are 116 sites donated by the landowners, waiting for construction. Neil Pundit is sponsoring 81

sites and 35 sites are being sponsored by Shree N Sharma (1963 CHE). Sponsorship means

that we need only 50% of the construction cost from donors, and the remainder will be met by

the sponsor and potential users. Our BIT Sindri Association International, a US public charity

nonprofit 501c3 organization, is undertaking the project and its overall responsibility. We need

donations. First phase of 81 sites of 3 toilets and one bath, each site costing $6K, is sponsored

by Neil Pundit. Phase 2 of 35 sites is sponsored by Shree N Sharma for larger public places,

each site to have 5 toilets and 2 baths, costing $10K per site.

Public Toilet for Rural India is a dire necessity because the shrinking land area and increasing

population render open-air defecation unsustainable. Filth, odor, and diseases are hazards for

public health safety. India is the worst sufferer of open defecation in spite of the national priority.

Additional problem is getting rural public, unaccustomed to toilet use, to change their way of life.

Men are reluctant, women are welcoming, and children are already exposed to toilet use in

schools. BIT Sindri Association International seeks donations from public at large and alumni.

The DONATE button on our website www.BITSindriINTERNATIONAL.org enables payment

through PayPal or credit cards. Facebook is helping with its own DONATE button. For large

donation or currency difficulty contact Neil Pundit (pundit@ieee.org).

 

INTRODUCTION

In July 2013 at the Annual Alumni Meet in New Jersey, Dr Krishna Pal Singh (1967 ME), a

Distinguished Alum International), announced matching funding for Public Toilet anywhere in

India as his last trip to India changed his heart and mind. Seeing no takers on the offer, in March

of 2015 Dr Lakshman P Sinha (1960 EE) and I approached Krishna Pal to consider a limited

offering through sponsorship by alumni. Krishna Pal readily agreed, set up a committee of us

adding Dr Onkar P Sharma (1959 EE). The PSS (Pundit, Sinha, Sharma) Committee started

formulating process, criteria, and got the Sulabh International to take up our requests of small

projects as an exception. Soon we found that their cost was more than double compared to that

of a small local contractor, as already demonstrated by Dr Anil Singh (1964 MET) and Shree

Sharma (1963 CHE) with public toilet facilities in their villages. We refined our process, and

publicized it on our website (www.bitsindri.org). A few inquiries, but still no takers. Lately Shree

Sharma was added to the committee. The Committee established guidelines, entertained

proposals, and recommended matching funding from the KPS Foundation. This committee is

now irrelevant as KPS Foundation funding is discontinued. [ However, the Committee did a lot of

hard work resulting in a semi-legal document called AGREEMENT that a landowner executes,

revised process document, ... all irrelevant now.]

In 2013 I had met a young man in my village who worked for a big construction company in

Kanpur. In July of 2015 I asked him if he could get a few public toilets constructed in our village,

and he agreed with some hesitation. In 6 months he got 10 sites with a total of 32 public toilets

done working part-time. I paid 50% of the construction cost, KPS Foundation did the Matching,

and added 2 years of maintenance cost. We require a prominent granite signboard declaring the

site as PUBLIC TOILET, along with listing the donor (or honoree), location, enablers and the

BIT Sindri Alumni.

 

TOILET DESIGN

We have engaged the villagers in the evolving design of the toilets. The most popular

configuration is a 3- toilet set, one bath, a wash basin, a hand pump, electric motor to pump

water to the rooftop tank, running water and electricity in all rooms, and flushable toilets.

In public places, schools, and village commons, we build a 5-toilet set with 2 bath rooms, two

wash basins, water tank on rooftop, running water and electricity everywhere. The hand pump

area is cemented, and it has become popular for washing clothes.

Women appreciate this life changing event. They urge men to start using, and more importantly

to spread the word. Children, exposed to toilets in their school, nudge the parents and elders to

use the toilets.

We started with a single underground septic tank, then moved on to a biodegradable and

recyclable dual tank system. Lately we have converged on a more robust and a superior system

of 3 septic tanks which extends the life of the system to 40 years, and emptying the tanks is less

frequent. However, this design requires more land, and costs more.

 

CONSTRUCTION COST & MAINTENANCE

The average construction cost is Rs 4 lakhs (US$6K) for the 3-toilet system, and Rs 7 lakhs

($10K) for the 5-toilet system. The maintenance consists of weekly cleaning with acid and

chemicals, and emptying the septic tanks as needed. A single tank system needs emptying

once a year, the dual tank system in alternate years, and the triple tank system only once in 5

years or so. The average yearly cost of maintenance is 2% of the construction cost. We plan for

a useful life of 15 years.

 

SITE SELECTION

The site selection is a difficult task involving the community. Major factors are: proper location;

getting the landlord to donate the land; and the cooperation of the potential users. For many

sites we get some donations from the potential users, neighbors, and the landlord. It takes

persuasion and cooperation over a long period of time and it is the most demanding

responsibility of the alumni sponsor in addition to the monetary commitment. Shree and I, as

sponsors, actively persuade by a personal visit, telephone calls, and continued assurances. For

some, land donation is a major sacrifice. The cost of land is usually higher than the cost of

construction. Often, it is a significant part of the ancestral family asset.

 

DOCUMENTING PROGRESS

Our websites list each site with its donor/honoree, location of the site, some details of facilities,

enablers, and a photo of the completed facility. We provide a complete listing of all sites. See

References.

Krishna Pal extended his generosity to his home village of Barahiya and 15 miles beyond by

funding the construction cost 100%. Maintenance is being addressed separately on a continuing

basis. With personal visits and persuasion by Shree Sharma and myself, we were able to get

only 8 land donations in the area. The land price is higher here, and the reluctance is

understandably higher. The progress of the toilet project is updated at BITS international

website:

http://www.bitsindriinternational.org/content/public-toilets-barahiya-pl...

 

CONCLUDING REMARKS

This has been a fulfilling journey. Public toilet in India is an urgent necessity. User response has

been heart-warming; sheer joy to see a life changing event for women in particular; gratitude

pours in everyday as a new toilet building comes up. The matriarch of my family in India, my

widowed bhabhi starts crying with joy with the most significant change of a lifetime for the poor

women! The grateful acknowledgement, ease of adapting to a new habit and profuse

appreciation have exceeded all expectations. The children in schools are happier not sharing

teachers' toilets. The entire community appreciates the 5-toilet facilities in Village Commons and

schools which are frequent venues for marriage parties (baaraat) and cultural events.

Krishna Pal has discontinued support of the Public Toilet Project primarily because the alumni

did not come forward in large numbers to take advantage of his matching funds offer. We

fervently urge the alumni to support the project in a huge way and compensate for Krishna

Pal's dropping out. Hopefully, that will bring Krishna Pal back to support the project again!

Go to www.BITSindriINTERNATIONAL.org, click on the DONATE button that enables using

credit cards or PayPal. There is a DONATE button on the FaceBook as well under the named

page.

We are seeking donations to complete construction on the sites already donated under our (Neil

Pundit and Shree Sharma) sponsorship. We cannot plan beyond that.

 

REFERENCES

1. The first site is a 5 toilet facility in a Munger girls school sponsored by Anil Singh (1964 MET). http://

www.bitsindri.org/content/first-set-toilets-constructed-bariarpur-munger...

2. The second site is a 5-toilet site in Village Fulwaria (near Hajipur), in the home village of sponsor

Shree Sharma (1963 CHE). He then added another 3-toilet facility nearby.[Since then he has built

many other facilities with his own 100% funding in his village and beyond. One site adjacent to a

Mosque got local publicity and secular appreciation.] See attached: Fulwaria Toilets.pdf

3. Sites 1 to 97 are listed on http://bitsindri.org/content/public-toilet-count-exceeds-300. For

each Public Toilet Facility, this gives Site#, Name of Donor/Honoree, Location, Remarks (3

toilets or 5 toilets, electrified, pump, sewage system details), and picture. Each facility has a

granite signboard declaring it in Hindi to be Public Toilet, and some other details.

4. Sites 98 thru 195: This listing starts from Site#98 and ends with site #195. The cumulative

toilet count thru Site #195 is: 657. It has the same details as described above under #3, and

a photo each.

http://www.bitsindri.org/content/public-toilet-count-exceeds-600

5. The North America Alumni organization handed over the Toilets projects and its reporting to

BITSA International. Since then, we have done only 8 sites (34 toilets) in the vicinity of

Barahiya (birthplace of Krishna Pal) and each site has been funded 100% of the

construction cost by the KPS Foundation. Maintenance is supposed to be the responsibility

of the user community. This is a bothersome issue. Public places like schools and colleges

have assumed the maintenance responsibility. For remaining places, currently sponsor

Shree Sharma is ensuring the maintenance.

http://www.bitsindriinternational.org/content/pubic-toilets-barahiya-plu...

6. AGREEMENT, a document landowner signs with a witness, donating the land for perpetual

use as Public Toilet. The document spells out the perpetual maintenance responsibility.

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