After pink autos come pink toilets for Delhi women

Public toilets always conjure up images of dirty, unsanitary conditions, which is a turn off for many women from using them. But what if these toilets were clean, had good amenities with sanitary pad dispensers, changing tables for babies and more? Perhaps then more women would be inclined to use them.

Pink toilet at Vikaspuri

The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) was the first to open a ‘pink’ toilet in Vikaspuri. Ad in 22 other locations around the city. “These pink toilets have been installed at those places which witness substantial footfall,” said S. Radhakrishnan, PR Head, SDMC.

This pink toilet at Vikaspuri for women is free. There are two women caretakers who have the responsibility to maintain hygiene. “We work hard to keep this toilet clean. Sometimes women users are badly behaved. They should also have a sense of a responsibility to cooperate with us,” said Rama Devi, caretaker of the Vikaspuri toilet.

The users pay for the sanitary napkins, which cost between ₹1 and ₹10. These toilets are opened from 7 am to 10pm every day. “There are many facilities in these toilets like hand wash and other types of chemicals which are not present in normal public toilets,” said Babita, another caretaker.

Features of Pink Toilets

Pink Toilets are supposed to have the following:

  • Clean washrooms with both Indian and Western toilets
  • Children and disabled friendly
  • A seating area outside the toilet for women to rest
  • Sanitary napkin vending machines
  • Incinerators to burn the used sanitary waste
“We don’t have a toilet in our office so I always come here. It’s free and clean here that’s the most amazing thing,” said Apporva, a user at the Vikaspuri toilet. Another user, Debomitra Das said she found the toilet very clean for being a public one. “I was very impressed that a public toilet could be so clean,” she said.

Not everything is hunky dory

However, not everything that SDMC claimed that these toilets would have, were present.
  • The toilets were supposed to be open 24/7, but they are open only from 7 am to 10 pm There are no low-height toilet and water basins for children.
  • There is no resting area or seating available for women to use.
  • There was no Indian style washroom available, only western style washroom was there.
Learning from Pink Autos Experience

Delhi introduced the concept of ‘Pink Autos’ as a safe mode of transport for women in the city, taking a cue from the Odisha government which introduced the first-ever pink auto rickshaw service for women. These autos had GPS trackers and were equipped with SOS buttons. The drivers were certified. And what’s more, in some areas, there were even separate lanes for the pink auto rickshaw. “We get only 5-6 customers a day,’ explained Sohom, a Pink Auto driver. He also felt the app-based cab travel ran this business to ground. “The availability of these pink autos has decreased now. We also lost customers once app-based cab services became popular.”

But the service did not go down well with the users as well “It felt suffocating to ride in these pink rickshaws,’’ said Arti, resident of Noida. Despite, incidents of rapes in Uber and Ola cab services; women feel safer in cabs and prefer to use them. “Cabs have better facilities than pink rickshaws. Cabs are safer,’’ said Soumya resident of Noida.

Pink Toilets doing better than Pink Autos

Saftey is not an issue in the Pink Toilets. The toilets have two cleaners present all the time. Women can use them without feeling threatened. Many women are still unaware of such facilities and they need to be advertised well. MCD is planning to extend the number of Pink Toilets in the city by starting them in other areas too. “We will invite applications from people desiring to open such facilities in their area. This will go a long way in instilling a sense of security among women and girls in using public toilets,” Radhakrishnan said.

If the facilities at the these Pink Toilets continue to be of high standards, only then will they be used by many more women and won’t end up folding like the Pink Autos.

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