Bengaluru Airport Washrooms Dilemma

City Environment Health

Facilities in Bengaluru Airport are not up to the mark due to lack of proper maintenance, especially for sanitary disposal machines.

By Hansy Sanctis

Bengaluru, April 9, 2019

Despite installing free sanitary napkins vending and disposal machines at the Bangalore airport, nobody is able to access and use them, as they are under locks.

These machines have been installed for free use and they are supposed to be available for the public, but in reality, nobody is on the premises to attend to the machines. The disposal machines, in particular, are supposed to help in disinfecting the used napkins and dispose of them in a safe and sanitized manner.

Nisha D’Souza, a 24-year old has been residing in Bengaluru for the past two years. Working as a data analyst for Amazon, she is required to take frequent trips in various parts of India for participation in seminars and audits. She says, “Bengaluru airport has a lot of room for improvement when it comes to cleanliness and development. One does get happy on seeing these machines initially until you actually go to use it and it doesn’t work, that’s extremely disappointing.”

The lack of proper dispensing and disposal has a big impact on women, as they are more susceptible to urinary tract infections and other infections. Without lack of proper availability of sanitary napkins/tampons and lack of the facility of disposing of them neatly, it becomes extremely difficult for a traveler and also contributes to non-degradable waste and pollution.

Chandralekha Patel is a 54-year-old woman based in Bangalore.  A resident of Kengeri, she travels often to Chennai to visit her elder son and his family. She says – “I see women getting confused when it comes to disposing of their sanitary napkins. Because of the instructions written on every toilet door, it is difficult to understand whether the disposal should be done by the person via the machine, or manually throw in the dustbin. I have rarely come across people who use tampons, but disposal of napkins is definitely an issue around the washrooms of this particular airport.”

The machines in each washroom are kept under lock and key and on inquiry, the cleaners of the washrooms mentioned on how they have never been really put to use. Kalamma, a 37-year old has been working for the Bengaluru Airport for the past 10 years.

She says, “I am happy to have been able to have secured a job here since Kannada is the only language I know. It was becoming a drawback while working as a maid for different families and so, I started working here. These machines were installed one or two years ago. We were happy that our work would have been made easier as we wouldn’t have to dispose the collected napkin from the dustbins ourselves, but now, we definitely have to because the machines are installed but they don’t work.”

According to a survey cited by one of the articles by Medclique.org, “around 1 billion non-compostable sanitary pads are being thrown in urban sewers, landfills, rural fields and water bodies in India every month. It creates 113,000 tons of non-biodegradable menstrual waste annually.”

“Lack of proper disposal of sanitary napkins or tampons can lead to several environmental and health hazards. The cleaners are the first people who would be susceptible to viruses as if the napkin or tampon is not properly wrapped, then the menstrual blood in reaction with the chemicals from the napkin is highly contagious and the biggest reason of contamination” said Yellappa Reddy, an environmentalist.

 

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