Few years ago I’d published a post suggesting that public sanitation can be made free by generating revenue by means of displaying ads. This idea did receive lot of encouragement and someone even made an attempt at implementation. However nothing has worked out till date and this post shares two incidents related to it.
A Delhi based NGO (not yet registered), called Dream India Projects, approached me saying they’re planning to implement the business model I’d suggested in my post (display ads, collect revenue and provide free sanitation to all). I was happy and offered whatever help I could. (some more details) I understand they made some initial progress but hit a roadblock somewhere. Lots of mails circulated during initial days but after few months they died out.
Unlike what we’d thought earlier, getting advertisers was not at all a challenge. Several agencies approached offering very decent amount to make commercial use of display areas in and around the toilet complex. Just to give you an idea, companies that advertise at bus shelters pay 1-2 lakh per month. At that rate, a toilet facility which has relatively more display area commands better rates. Thus, though advertisers were ready, primary challenge was that civic authorities were not willing to handover controls of sanitation facilities to private operators for commercial exploitation. Thus, to the extent I understand, the implementation hit a roadblock as corporation authorities declined to give permission to manage public sanitation facilities. They may have their reasons, but at least on an experimental basis they could have agreed to the proposal and see if works.
I never heard from them (Coordinators of Dream India Project who were working on the implementation) again and have no clue if anything is happening. Assume mission is aborted. Those living in Delhi are requested to comment if you’ve noticed any developments in this regard.
In another related development, an individual who identified himself as research associate with ICFAI (ICFAI Research Centre, Ahmedabad) approached me earlier this year, saying they wish to include this “free public sanitation for all” model as a case study in one of their upcoming books (to be published by ICFAI university). I gave necessary authorization for them to include my work. Some reviews, corrections, rework and all happened and my contact address was taken, so as to send complimentary copy of the book.
However there’s no update from them since past 3+ months, so I assume the article didn’t make it to the book. Would have been nice otherwise.