Solar power could improve Mumbai’s community toilets

Solar power could improve Mumbai’s community toilets David HatchPhoto:  The dearth of flush toilets in Mumbai’s slums is alarming and heartbreaking. An estimated 58 percent of community toilets in India are without electricity, while 78 percent lack water. That is why the solar technology that powers a community toilet in the Mumbai suburb of Santacruz is so promising, reports Carlin Carr, Mumbai Community Manager for Urb.im.

The Santacruz site serves more than 1,000 slum dwellers. Triratna Prerana Mandal, a prominent community group in Mumbai that operates the facility, turned to solar when energy and water bills rose too high. Now, photovoltaic panels keep the lights on and water warm for India’s only solar-powered toilet block. The technology lowered energy bills by 45 percent.

A 2012 Harvard University study found just one commode for every 5,000 slum dwellers in India’s financial hub. Conditions are so abysmal that a woman recently died in Mumbai while inside a dilapidated two-story public toilet that collapsed. “Even when toilets are present, they are often dirty, unsafe or closed altogether,” Carr writes.

Now, photovoltaic panels keep the lights on and water warm for India’s only solar-powered toilet block. The technology lowered energy bills by 45 percent.