Toilets Project: URGENT HELP NEEDED
Our Alumni & Public Toilet for Rural India
by Neil Pundit, PhD, 1961 TC
President, BITSA International
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
1. The first site is a 5 toilet facility in a Munger girls school sponsored by Anil Singh (1964 MET). http://
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.
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.
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.