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Loo and Behold! A toilet seat that could be an answer to India’s poor toilet hygiene   

Pavni Gupta, a student at Apeejay School, Faridabad has designed a seat that lifts on its own

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India’s sanitation problems are multi-faceted. A news report suggests, ‘In India hundreds of millions of people end up defecating outside, which can spread diseases including cholera, typhoid and Covid-19. Poor sanitation leads to over 126,000 deaths every year from diarrheal diseases.’ These numbers are also linked to cultural practices, strong belief systems and the concept of ‘purity within the households.’ Under the ‘Swacch Bharat Mission’ launched by Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi in 2014, the country has nonetheless made huge progress to stop open defecation and promote toilet etiquette amongst its citizens.

Keeping the above picture in mind, Pavni Gupta, a class 10 student at Apeejay School, Faridabad has designed a seat that consists of a mechanism to uplift itself after use. Through her invention, she aims to help improve the condition of public toilets in the country. Her model can be a game-changer, especially, for women and differently-abled individuals. Recently, the young achiever’s model was selected for Inspire – ‘Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research’ (INSPIRE) MANAK scheme which is one of the flagship programmes of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India. In an interview, Pavni talks about her idea and its mass relevance. Read on:

How did the idea of the seat come up?

I have been travelling a lot to various places with my family or on vacations. During our journey in trains and airplanes, I experienced the problem of poor toilet seat hygiene. That’s how it struck me to design something that can solve this problem.

Please tell us more about your project?

India grapples with issues of poor hygiene, sanitation practices and toilet etiquette. In most places, we still have common toilets for men and women. To be honest, the seats are usually unclean for safe-use, especially for women. My model strives to improve the hygiene status of these seats to reduce the risk of diseases and infections. The mechanism of the seat allows it to be lifted post usage automatically. This prevents the seat from getting dirty.

Does the seat have a sensor for it?

No, it works on a hydraulic arrangement. As soon as a person sits on it, the piston goes in and after they are done, it comes out again.

How can the seat be useful for the rural population?

In the rural parts of the country, our first challenge is to solve the issue of open defecation. We need to encourage people to use toilets inside their homes. In my view, such an invention could be all the more relevant in rural areas because there the segregation of men and women toilets is very little.  

How has Apeejay School, Faridabad helped you for the project?

I want to thank my Chemistry teacher at school, Ms. Suman Chaudhary Ma’am. She inspired me to think outside the box and encouraged me to help society through science-based application and innovation.

What could be the cost of the toilet seat?

It won’t be very expensive. Adding the hydraulic system does include much cost and a regular toilet seat in India can range roughly from Rs. 3000-12,000/-.

Your career aspiration?

I am certain to pursue a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based field.

Your message for young girls?

My advice to them is to believe in themselves. Women’s education is the need of the hour and currently women and girls are at the forefront of unconventional careers. As a country, we still have a lot of work to do, so we must start right now! 

Mrini Devnani is Senior Correspondent (Newsroom). She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has a passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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