The toilets run by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) are smelly and unhygienic because they don’t have enough water. The toilets located at Jayanagar, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Subramanya Pura, Vasanth Nagar, Majestic, Hebbal, and many other places in the city stink because they cannot be cleaned regularly due to lack of water.
Water is supplied to the toilets by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB), but the BBMP has not paid the Board for about six months say Board sources.
Sreenivas M, the janitor at the BBMP toilet in Jayanagar IV T Block, said: “We don’t get water from the bore well. Instead, we call water tankers to supply water for the toilets.” He added, they receive 5000 liters of water for three days. When that gets over they call the BWSSB for more water.
BWSSB Public Relations Officer, B. M. Manjunath said “the water supply problem is not by us but the BBMP. They either would not have paid the water bills properly or they would not have applied for the water services.”
The lack of water and the consequent unhygienic toilets force citizens to look for alternatives. However, they might not just find them.
Commuters are forced to stand away from the bus stops and autorickshaw stands due to the foul smell. Shivlingaiah, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus conductor, commented, “We park the buses a little away from the bus stand because of foul smell. It is embarrassing for us to use these toilets because we see liquor bottles and condoms thrown there.”
Some use restaurants and cafes. “I don’t use the public toilet because it is mucky and smells bad, I go to a coffee shop to use the toilet there,” said Venkatesh, a resident of Jayanagar.
Narasimha the manager of Cafe Coffee Day, Vasanth Nagar said, “Because many people from colleges and other officers come to use the washroom here, we have made it compulsory to buy something before using the toilet.”
The BBMP, however, maintains that a general water shortage is responsible. Manoranjan Hedge, Chief Public Health officer BBMP said: “There is water scarcity in the city, so the toilets are poorly maintained. The government has provided funds for the development of the toilets, but it is not being utilized properly by our engineers.”
Water scarcity is not the only problem with BBMP toilets. The toilet located in Uttarhalli bus stop, allows men to use the women’s toilets and vice-versa. Raju, a janitor, working for over seven years there said “There are only two cubicles in the gents’ restroom and three in ladies’. So when the gents get full, and the ladies’ restroom is empty, the men use it. Also, vice-versa.”
Ratna, a resident of Uttarhalli said: “There are times I have waited outside the toilet because there is a man inside. Even otherwise, we can’t even step inside because it is very dirty. The dirty smell is nauseous.”
Sapna Karim, Head of Janaagraha a Non-Government Organisation focused on urban development said that public toilets are poorly maintained due to a lack of adherence to standards of upkeep, regular check and maintenance of infrastructure. She added standards need to be established and manpower needs to be adequately allocated.
Swachh Bharath Abhiyan,a movement to clean India has an application—Swachh Bharath Toilet App Locator, on October 2, 2017. “Swachh Bharath Toilet app has been launched under the Solid Waste Management team. It will give the status of the toilets in Bangalore and their working condition,” said M. R Venkatesh, Engineer in Chief BBMP. The application is currently working on Android phones and is yet to start working on Ios phones.
The newly-elected Mayor, Sampat Raj said in a telephonic conversation that it becomes difficult to monitor so many restrooms. He also mentioned that the Swachh Bharath App will now act as a primary tool to check the conditions of the toilets in the city. “I have also set up a team to resolve this issue soon,” he said.