Geotag toilets: BBMP dither over creating awareness

While the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike made efforts to geotag public toilets, it did very little to create awareness about the initiative. That meant many city dwellers are largely in the dark about the facility.

Now, locating public toilets is right at your fingertips. All you need to do is to type the word 'toilet' in Google Maps, which would direct you to the nearest place to ease yourself.

While the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike made efforts to geotag public toilets, it did very little to create awareness about the initiative. That meant many city dwellers are largely in the dark about the facility.

In September, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUA) teamed up with tech giant Google to launch the #LooReview campaign to geotag public toilets in all urban local bodies in the country.

One of the main objectives of the #LooReview campaign was to make people aware how accessible public toilets are in urban areas. Besides locating them in Google Maps, the option to review them also help their maintenance.

In reality, however, the BBMP is yet to begin a social media campaign to bring the spotlight on the mapping of the toilets.

Sapna Karim, who heads civic participation in Janaagraha, says the reluctance to publicise toilet mapping could be because their numbers are still minimal.

"The BBMP is still falling behind the number of toilets to meet the Swachh Bharat targets. Another reason why it hasn't publicised the toilet availability is their poor maintenance. Many of them don't have a functioning flush and adequate lighting, among other things," Sapna said.

A recent survey by Jaanagraha revealed that the city has more toilets in the inner wards and few in the periphery. It is also falling behind the 1,100 toilets fixed on the basis of the population figures.

Randeep D, BBMP's special commissioner for solid waste management, said the civic body would launch the awareness drive since it has already geotagged the toilets. "We'll start the awareness campaign sometime next week," he added.

The campaign is one of the key factors for the city to get better rankings in the Swachh Survekshan survey. Lack of awareness about public toilets cost the city crucial points and made it slide down the rankings last time around. We have to keep our fingers crossed to know how it fairs this year.

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