Can social drives curb this public nuisance?

The yellow-water tanker marked with a terse message, ‘You Stop, We stop’, captured public imagination on social media over the last week.

With music that signified military-like precision, the tanker that attacked people urinating in public with a water cannon was out in the streets of Mumbai, helmed by an anonymous group, The Clean Indian. But public defecation and urination is just not a city-based problem, evident enough from the reactions it generated from all over the country. Metrolife takes a look at the situation in Delhi.

With funds from ‘My Delhi I Care’ under the Bhagidari scheme, North Delhi Resident’s Welfare Federation started the sixth public toilet facility for both men and women in Kashmere Gate Market. The president of NDRWF, Ashok Bhasin, says, “Over the past three years, the federation has worked arduously towards public sanitation, rain water harvesting etc in north Delhi. Known as the Walled City, prior to independence, our area was well developed even in those times, so it makes even more sense to work on its maintenance.”

Considering the urgent need for public toilets for women, Ashok adds, “The sixth public toilet facility that was inaugurated a week ago is located at the busy street of the Kashmere gate market. Earlier at this place, there was a two-urinal setup for men. Now, this facility includes a guard who maintains the security of the public toilet from 6 am to 8 pm. It also has a hand pump to procure extra water.”  
The other five facilities are operational at Hanuman Mandir Ring Road, Kamla Nagar market, in front of Hindu Rao resgistration office, and Roshnara Bagh Singh Sabha gate and club gate 2.

While this is a laudable effort, it is still restricted to one part of the city. In east Delhi, the vice-president of RWA’s federation, Meera Sabharwal, rues, “Time and again, we have been requesting for public toilet facilities, especially for women, in our meetings with the councillor. There are some areas that need urgent attention such as Vikas Marg that connects East Delhi to ITO, and also all the ring roads in the capital that make for a long route journey.”

On the same lines, in December 2013, UNICEF brought an interactive and digital campaign to the streets of Delhi when their mascot Poo wandered around the city to disseminate the message ‘Take Poo to the Loo’. The campaign emphasised that there are more than 620 million people in India who are either not using a toilet or not having access to one, and the other half of the population seems to be ignoring the situation.

But honestly speaking do these campaigns have any real effect on the common man?

Ira Chowdhary who frequents Lajpat Nagar Market, says, “It was a relief to have a public toilet facility in Lajpat Nagar Market around December last year. I can’t even imagine how people, especially women, survived their hours-long shopping sprees earlier. Using washroom facilities of fancy eating joints is not always an option!”  She also feels, “I don’t think the Clean Indian social campaign is effective enough. It only makes us ridicule those errant individuals who urinate publicly on the streets, but it ends up wasting litres of water on them. Instead, there should be a stringent punishment or imposition of fee to curtail such acts.”

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