Our Alumni & Public Toilet for Rural Indiaby Neil Pundit, PhD, 1961 TCPresident, BITSA Internationalpundit@ieee.orgOctober 20, 2017Abstract & Summary: After some 700 public toilets, KPS Foundation has discontinued itsmatching funding for our alumni sponsored Public Toilet projects for Rural India. Currently thereare 116 sites donated by the landowners, waiting for construction. Neil Pundit is sponsoring 81sites and 35 sites are being sponsored by Shree N Sharma (1963 CHE). Sponsorship meansthat we need only 50% of the construction cost from donors, and the remainder will be met bythe sponsor and potential users. Our BIT Sindri Association International, a US public charitynonprofit 501c3 organization, is undertaking the project and its overall responsibility. We needdonations. First phase of 81 sites of 3 toilets and one bath, each site costing $6K, is sponsoredby 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 increasingpopulation render open-air defecation unsustainable. Filth, odor, and diseases are hazards forpublic 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 inschools. BIT Sindri Association International seeks donations from public at large and alumni.The DONATE button on our website www.BITSindriINTERNATIONAL.org enables paymentthrough PayPal or credit cards. Facebook is helping with its own DONATE button. For largedonation or currency difficulty contact Neil Pundit (pundit@ieee.org).INTRODUCTIONIn July 2013 at the Annual Alumni Meet in New Jersey, Dr Krishna Pal Singh (1967 ME), aDistinguished Alum International), announced matching funding for Public Toilet anywhere inIndia as his last trip to India changed his heart and mind. Seeing no takers on the offer, in Marchof 2015 Dr Lakshman P Sinha (1960 EE) and I approached Krishna Pal to consider a limitedoffering through sponsorship by alumni. Krishna Pal readily agreed, set up a committee of usadding Dr Onkar P Sharma (1959 EE). The PSS (Pundit, Sinha, Sharma) Committee startedformulating process, criteria, and got the Sulabh International to take up our requests of smallprojects as an exception. Soon we found that their cost was more than double compared to thatof a small local contractor, as already demonstrated by Dr Anil Singh (1964 MET) and ShreeSharma (1963 CHE) with public toilet facilities in their villages. We refined our process, andpublicized it on our website (www.bitsindri.org). A few inquiries, but still no takers. Lately ShreeSharma was added to the committee. The Committee established guidelines, entertainedproposals, and recommended matching funding from the KPS Foundation. This committee isnow irrelevant as KPS Foundation funding is discontinued. [ However, the Committee did a lot ofhard 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 inKanpur. 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 toiletsdone 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 thesite as PUBLIC TOILET, along with listing the donor (or honoree), location, enablers and theBIT Sindri Alumni.TOILET DESIGNWe have engaged the villagers in the evolving design of the toilets. The most popularconfiguration is a 3- toilet set, one bath, a wash basin, a hand pump, electric motor to pumpwater 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, twowash basins, water tank on rooftop, running water and electricity everywhere. The hand pumparea is cemented, and it has become popular for washing clothes.Women appreciate this life changing event. They urge men to start using, and more importantlyto spread the word. Children, exposed to toilets in their school, nudge the parents and elders touse the toilets.We started with a single underground septic tank, then moved on to a biodegradable andrecyclable dual tank system. Lately we have converged on a more robust and a superior systemof 3 septic tanks which extends the life of the system to 40 years, and emptying the tanks is lessfrequent. However, this design requires more land, and costs more.CONSTRUCTION COST & MAINTENANCEThe 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 andchemicals, and emptying the septic tanks as needed. A single tank system needs emptyingonce a year, the dual tank system in alternate years, and the triple tank system only once in 5years or so. The average yearly cost of maintenance is 2% of the construction cost. We plan fora useful life of 15 years.SITE SELECTIONThe 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 manysites we get some donations from the potential users, neighbors, and the landlord. It takespersuasion and cooperation over a long period of time and it is the most demandingresponsibility of the alumni sponsor in addition to the monetary commitment. Shree and I, assponsors, actively persuade by a personal visit, telephone calls, and continued assurances. Forsome, land donation is a major sacrifice. The cost of land is usually higher than the cost ofconstruction. Often, it is a significant part of the ancestral family asset.DOCUMENTING PROGRESSOur 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. SeeReferences.Krishna Pal extended his generosity to his home village of Barahiya and 15 miles beyond byfunding the construction cost 100%. Maintenance is being addressed separately on a continuingbasis. With personal visits and persuasion by Shree Sharma and myself, we were able to getonly 8 land donations in the area. The land price is higher here, and the reluctance isunderstandably higher. The progress of the toilet project is updated at BITS internationalwebsite:http://www.bitsindriinternational.org/content/public-toilets-barahiya-plus-areaCONCLUDING REMARKSThis has been a fulfilling journey. Public toilet in India is an urgent necessity. User response hasbeen heart-warming; sheer joy to see a life changing event for women in particular; gratitudepours in everyday as a new toilet building comes up. The matriarch of my family in India, mywidowed bhabhi starts crying with joy with the most significant change of a lifetime for the poorwomen! The grateful acknowledgement, ease of adapting to a new habit and profuseappreciation have exceeded all expectations. The children in schools are happier not sharingteachers’ toilets. The entire community appreciates the 5-toilet facilities in Village Commons andschools which are frequent venues for marriage parties (baaraat) and cultural events.Krishna Pal has discontinued support of the Public Toilet Project primarily because the alumnidid not come forward in large numbers to take advantage of his matching funds offer. Wefervently urge the alumni to support the project in a huge way and compensate for KrishnaPal’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 usingcredit cards or PayPal. There is a DONATE button on the FaceBook as well under the namedpage.We are seeking donations to complete construction on the sites already donated under our (NeilPundit and Shree Sharma) sponsorship. We cannot plan beyond that.REFERENCES1. 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-bihar2. The second site is a 5-toilet site in Village Fulwaria (near Hajipur), in the home village of sponsorShree Sharma (1963 CHE). He then added another 3-toilet facility nearby.[Since then he has builtmany other facilities with his own 100% funding in his village and beyond. One site adjacent to aMosque got local publicity and secular appreciation.] See attached: Fulwaria Toilets.pdf3. Sites 1 to 97 are listed on http://bitsindri.org/content/public-toilet-count-exceeds-300. Foreach Public Toilet Facility, this gives Site#, Name of Donor/Honoree, Location, Remarks (3toilets or 5 toilets, electrified, pump, sewage system details), and picture. Each facility has agranite 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 cumulativetoilet count thru Site #195 is: 657. It has the same details as described above under #3, anda photo each.http://www.bitsindri.org/content/public-toilet-count-exceeds-6005. The North America Alumni organization handed over the Toilets projects and its reporting toBITSA International. Since then, we have done only 8 sites (34 toilets) in the vicinity ofBarahiya (birthplace of Krishna Pal) and each site has been funded 100% of theconstruction cost by the KPS Foundation. Maintenance is supposed to be the responsibilityof the user community. This is a bothersome issue. Public places like schools and collegeshave assumed the maintenance responsibility. For remaining places, currently sponsorShree Sharma is ensuring the maintenance.http://www.bitsindriinternational.org/content/pubic-toilets-barahiya-plus-area6. AGREEMENT, a document landowner signs with a witness, donating the land for perpetualuse as Public Toilet. The document spells out the perpetual maintenance responsibility.