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Google teams up with the Indian government to develop toilet locator app

Access to safe and healthy sanitation is a major problem that India is facing with a number of official surveys pointing to almost 70 percent of Indian households with no access to toilets. As a result, people are forced to defecate in open spaces. The toilet locator from Google aims to provide better access in such situations.

However, critics of this app have said that the use of this service is subject to good network coverage and people knowing how to use maps on smartphones, especially as most of those with no access to proper sanitation are based in rural areas.

“What if you have no internet connection? What if you don’t know how to use Google Maps? Unfortunately this is one thing that you can’t plan in advance so there are a number of factors that you are dependent on,” 21-year old Vikas told CNBC via email.

Meanwhile, as part of an awareness campaign, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has recruited 28 people to wear funny mascot outfits to stop people from defecating and urinating in public. The mascots, who wear masks and yellow costumes, have been instructed to blow a whistle if they spot anyone in the act.

According to government statistics, over five million people in Delhi defecate in the open. Another set of data from the government’s slum development agency, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), which has been entrusted with the task of making the city open defecation free, reported recently that there are 259 open defecation spots in Delhi.

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