To boost the density of public toilets in the city, a unique campaign is now on to source inputs from the citizens to come out with a Citizen Budget Report. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will assess this to be included in its Budget for 2021-22.
Interacting with a cross-section of Bengalureans, DH takes a look at this initiative with focus on the lack of adequate toilets, and how this citizen-driven effort can be a template for other key issues.
Arun Chand C, a resident of Koramangala, has this to say: “Public toilets are important to maintain the hygiene of the city. India is a highly populated country and its urban life is filled with migrants. So building more public toilets will help those who cannot afford to build a toilet at their houses, especially in slum areas.”
The Government of India had launched campaigns such as the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014 to eliminate open defecation and improve solid waste management. “Even though the Swachh Bharat Mission started in 2014, there are still places that lack hygiene. If BBMP is incorporating this in its budget, it will be a boon for all Bengalureans to keep the Silicon Valley of India clean and neat,” Chand adds.
Thanu Sura from Mathikere chips in, “Recently in Thane (Mumbai), the municipal corporation along with an NGO built a ‘period room’ which will help women from chawls to maintain menstrual hygiene. Similarly, the boost in density of public toilets will be helpful for women. But the only question is whether the hygiene of these places will be ensured.”
“In several public places, hygiene is not ensured. Most of the time, when my friends go out, they depend on malls to use washrooms as they have good maintenance. So, making citizens aware of the need to use public spaces neatly is very necessary,” Thanu adds.
In the words of Shem Shaji Baby, a research scholar, “From the time of Independence, India has been trying to eradicate open defecation and urination. But till today, that is a distant dream. If we go to railway lines early in the morning, we can observe this happening. Public toilets are the solution.”
“Increasing the number of public toilets can boost hygiene of public places. For example, we can see people urinating on walls in the heart of the city. This is a public nuisance. In such cases, the police should levy a penalty, so that those violating laws will think about using the available public toilets,” he elaborates.
Darshan, a Vijayanagar resident, points out, “The need for more public toilets is reflected in bus stands and railway stations. Merely building public toilets will not help the public but their maintenance and hygiene are critical. We can smell urine at several places within bus stands. So the first drive should be to reduce unhygienic practices at public places.” In the developed world, he says, hygiene is well appreciated. “But the same people who praise these countries will not follow such practices in India. Whether they are educated or not, taking the laws lightly is a real menace in our country.”