By Suneha Dutta
Fuad Lokhandwala’s public toilets are aesthetically built, well-equipped and, most importantly, clean — a refreshing change from the stinking public conveniences around the country. “The concepts of service and maintenance are alien in India. So, I wanted to provide a decent service to the aam aadmi — toilets that always remain clean,” he says. In 1998, he returned to Delhi after 25 years in the US. It was American television host Jay Leno’s jibe about how Indians can build nuclear bombs but can’t make decent toilets that got Lokhandwala thinking. In 1999, he used his own money to construct the first toilet in Delhi’s Khan Market. He had the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s permit but needed funds to sustain the model. So, he and wife Mehru used the toilets’ walls for outdoor advertising, their chief source of funding. His toilet complex costs between Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 60 lakh. Mumbai has 15 of them, with 81 in the pipeline. Delhi has 13. Jaipur and Chennai have also shown interest. Competitors don’t worry him. “They don’t realise that before you make money, you have to provide good service,” Lokhandwala says.