Fewer public toilets, Swachh less Bharat


Only 479 public toilets for over 85 lakh people in Silicon Valley, resulting in foul-smelling streets

Nikita Arora

A total number of 479 public toilets constructed by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), under the Swachh Bharat Mission fail to serve the population of Banglore.

Lack of accessibility of public toilets has been troublesome for people across the city. Shankar, a cab driver said, “It is quite difficult to find public toilets in the city. I can’t drive and hunt for them while the customers are in the cab. So, I have to take frequent halts in long routes and urinate along the roadside at times.”

Open urination in the residential areas has proven troublesome for people staying there. Raj Dayal, a Koramangala resident said, “Recently Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had placed a banner on the wall which said that they would impose a fine of Rs.100 on people who urinate on the streets. For a week or two, the streets stopped stinking, but later, it started again.”

On Gandhi Jayanti, Prime Minister Modi declared rural India defecation free, but the dream of achieving this goal in the urban areas still remains far-fetched. According to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO), “one third of the total population lack access to proper sanitation facilities.”

Some people point out the  unhygienic conditions of  a few public toilets as one of the cons. The landlord of G.V. Comforts paying guest accommodation in Saddugunte Palya said, “There is a public toilet at 1st cross, and still the scene is horrible. I think the issue here is that the toilets are not even clean, so people are not ready to use them. As a result, they urinate wherever they feel like.” 

The government authorities blame the cluttered streets and the increasing population for the lack of sufficient toilets in the city. Niranjan, Executive Engineer of the Sanitary Department, BBMP said, “The streets are congested and building toilets there is pointless. Also, the population of the city is rising rapidly so any number of toilets cannot suffice, but still we are working on it.”

Spot fine of Rs 100 by BBMP is levied on people who urinate on the roadside. “It is impossible to keep track of people urinating in each and every corner of the city. The reason behind them not using these toilets is twofold- one is  the fee and the second is  that they are lazy. They are too lethargic to go look for public toilets. It is a matter of convenience for them,” he added.

A study conducted by a non-profit organization, Fields of View, stated that“children defecate in front of the huts (made in front of construction sites) and others mostly use  the ‘open field’ because  people hardly have access to a public toilet.” To this, construction workers said that public toilets are in a really poor condition, so much so that it is impossible for them to use them.

Raju, a construction worker said, “Firstly, the toilets are unhygienic and unclean, so we prefer not using them. And secondly, they charge us for it. We have built a temporary toilet here, so we use that itself.”

Dr. Victor Paul, an environmental studies professor at Christ College commented on the issue saying, “Open urination is an age-old problem in the country and most people arenot aware of its consequences. The government is doing what it can by introducing the spot fine system, educating them, and so on. What is needed, however, are stricter laws and more awareness about it. Also besides the smell, this can result in diseases like typhoid, diphtheria, fungal infections, etc..”