Image via The Better India

In December 2016, India’s first solar-powered community sanitation complex was built in Sathewadi, Thane, Maharashtra.  Having benefited over 200 families in the local community, it serves as a benchmark for sustainable toilets in the country.

The power supply system has a battery back-up, and provides 1.5 kilowatts of power. A group of residents from the complex maintains the elaborate system by cleaning it once a week. They are very proud of their solar sanitation complex. The bathroom is open 24/7 and there is electricity and adequate water supply at all times. Residents even have a smart card that allows them to access the facility.

“We do not charge any money for the cards but residents have to pay Rs11 per month towards maintenance charges,” said Nilesh Karkare of Habitat for Humanity, the NGO that set up the toilet along with solar energy startup Sunvest.


The previous washroom did not have any lights, and so at night, women usually went there in groups (or not at all). But now, thanks to the uninterrupted power supply, the only company a woman needs is her handy-dandy smart card.

(Of course, the complex has only five cubicles for women as opposed to eleven for men, so…)

And most importantly, relatives of the residents are very impressed with the new solar powered toilets, because log kya kahenge is the underlying principle of Indian life. Even sustainable living bows before it!

Jokes apart, the dark days are behind the good folk of Sathewadi, Thane. They have welcomed the light into their lives, starting with the humble, yet all-important gusalkhana.

Posted by Rohan

short story writer


  1. Great article, exactly what I was looking for.


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