'Indians defecate everywhere. They defecate, mostly, beside the railway tracks. But they also defecate on the beaches; they defecate on the hills; they defecate on the riverbanks.' So wrote V.S. Naipaul in his 1964 novel An Area of Darkness, infuriating Indians with his tone of naked contempt. Since then, alas, not a lot has changed. At a time when growing numbers of urban and even rural Indians own mobile phones and drive expensive foreign cars and when Indians enthusiastically launch satellites, more than three-quarters of Indians live without access to a simple toilet. But slum-dwellers in Mumbai - where only a third of the residents use a conventional toilet - are building their own toilets and maintaining them as part of a World Bank-funded project. It began with the World Bank recently giving a US$8 million loan to the municipal corporation. Then a committee of slum-dwellers met to decide if they wanted a toilet. They decided yes, and the corporation involved them in the building and maintenance of the lavatory. Once it was built, the committee collected a small monthly fee from the families in the neighbourhood who use it. In some slums - such as the vast Dharavi and Cheetah Camp slums - entrepreneurial instincts have come into play. Some committees have installed newspaper stands and a television set so that people have something to do while waiting their turn. While the toilets are run on a no-profit basis, the committees sometimes make enough money for extras such as TVs. Others have a small library. In a room above the lavatory at Khar slum, local people run computer and English classes. The income from these classes helps to keep the monthly fee down. 'Most slum-dwellers in Mumbai are migrants from other states. They normally dread having visitors because there is no toilet for them. So many families have said they're delighted to have relatives staying with them now because a huge problem has been solved,' the World Bank's Gitanjali Chopra said. Even in areas were the municipal authorities have provided toilets in slums, these are usually filthy, unlit at night and often overrun with drunks and drug addicts, making it impossible for women to use them. Sandhya Matonde, who says she used to wait till sunset to relieve herself before the new toilet was built, is very happy. For one, it's clean, because a cleaner is on the premises round the clock. 'It costs my family quite a bit - about 20 rupees a month - but it's worth every penny. It's so clean that my family's medical expenses have come down,' Ms Matonde told World Bank officials. Nearly 600,000 Indian children die each year of ailments linked to poor sanitation.