Indian city to pay residents to use public toilets instead of streets
An Indian city is implementing a new reward system where residents who use public toilets will be paid as an incentive to reduce the number of people urinating and defecating in the street.
The city council of the western city of Ahmedabad, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), is to pay one rupee for each visit to the public toilet. The city currently has 300 public toilets for a population of seven million people but many of the city’s residents choose to use public areas to relieve themselves, with walls reportedly smelling of urine.
“Once successful, the project will be implemented in all the 300 public toilets in Ahmedabad,” AMC health worker Bhavvik Joshi told AFP news agency.
Joshi added that the new reward scheme would be piloted at 67 public toilets in the city, which is the biggest in the state of Gujarat. Officers at the public toilets will hand a coin to each user.
Another official, AMC standing committee chairman Pravin Patel, told the news agency that those caught doing their business publicly on numerous occasions would be “identified and encouraged” to take up the payment offer and use the toilets instead.
“The idea behind this project is to prevent open defecation in parts of the city where people, despite having public toilets, defecate in the open,” Patel said.
Last October, on the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced a cleanliness drive, entitled Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission), to make the country’s roads and public spaces nicer places to be.
His vision is a five-year campaign to promote better hygiene among the population, which he described as “not politics, but patriotism”. He has also pledged to end open defecation by 2019, saying that sanitation is “more important than independence”.
Last year, the UN revealed that India is the country with the highest open defecation problem in the world, with 597 million people participating in the practice, representing 47% of the country’s total population.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) report released last year said that over half a billion people in India “continue to defecate in gutters, behind bushes or in open water bodies, with no dignity or privacy”.
Of the one billion who practice open defecation in the world, 825 million live in just 10 countries. Besides India, these countries are Indonesia (54 million), Pakistan (41 million), Nepal (11 million) and China (10 million), while the other five all emanate from Africa: Ethiopia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan.
Representatives from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the AMC were not immediately available for comment.