Public loos not up to mark

While public toilets in areas like Domlur and St Mark’s Road are clean and well-kept, many others leave much to be desired

This Sulabh toilet complex in Domlur is only for men.

The BBMP plans to set up 416 public toilets for men and women in the city. BBMP officials said the proposed toilets would be environment-friendly, and tenders would also be invited to set up community toilets along with the public ones.

But what is the condition of the existing ones? Metrolife did a reality check and found that while the ones in the swanky Central Business District (CBD) were well-maintained, the situation became worse as one moved further away. Public toilets in crowded areas and on the outskirts are the worst
performers, with many facing problems like broken doors, scarcity of water and blocked commodes.

The number of public toilets is also very less when compared to the number of people in the city.

Swachh Bharat Mission Public Restroom, Residency Road

Located within the premises of the City Civil Courts, Mayo Hall Unit on Residency Road, this public restroom is relatively clean. The men’s section and women’s section has been built jointly and separated by a narrow passage. However, out of the three stalls, only one was functioning.

Public restroom at Majestic Bus Stand

The entire area around the restroom was flooded with dirty water. The stink was enough to prevent us from even venturing close to the place. Though it wasn’t cleaned, a man was diligently collecting money for the use.

Nirmala Bangalore pay and use toilet, Kumaraswamy Layout

They don’t clean the washroom on a regular basis. However, it is better than most public washrooms. They have facilities for both men and women.

BBMP’s Sulabh Toilet Complex, St Mark’s road

The restroom is clean and well-maintained. It has both men and women’s section separated by a small area where the money collector sits. The restroom has two shower stalls as well. They have an open roof structure that allows fresh air to come in, keeping the restroom from stinking.

In Benniganahalli, near Gopalan Signature Mall

The pay and use toilet and bath complex has two toilets for women and one bath facility for them, though it is being used as a storeroom. It has six toilets and one bath facility for men. It costs Rs 5 to use the toilet and Rs 2 to use the bath facility.

Around 18 people use it a day, with up to eight of them women. It is cleaned two times a day and inspected by the BBMP two times a month.

The space for women is cramped and one of the two toilets had alcohol bottles and men’s clothing, raising serious doubts about the safety aspect. The men’s area is only slightly better.

It is located opposite the mall but being in an elevated area is not very accessible.

In Domlur 1st stage, behind Domlur bus stop

The Sulabh toilet complex, with four urinals and two toilets, is only for men. Approximately 100 people use it in a day. The BBMP inspections are sporadic with the latest inspection happening three days before Metrolife went there.

We found the place to be decently maintained and naturally well-lit. The doors have working locks. But there are no soaps or cleaning equipment other than water. The place is safe and accessible.

In Domlur 1st stage, near CPWD Complex

The pay and use toilet, for both men and women, is constructed and maintained by Aastha Foundation. There are two toilets for women and four for men and the facility has ample space. You are charged Rs 5 to use the facility.

According to the person manning it, around 100 people use it daily, with the majority being men. BBMP officials inspect the place two-three times per week It is cleaned four times a day, the floors are wiped, the stock of handwash and tissues are checked and room freshener is also used.

When Metrolife inspected the toilets, we found that the locks are working, the bathroom is well lit and there is no unpleasant odour.

In Bannerghatta Road, outside IIM-Bangalore campus

There are 5 urinals for men and a bath facility but no toilets. It’s located in an accessible area but it doesn’t look safe and isn’t hygienic. There are no locks and flushes don’t work. It is cleaned once a day and a BBMP inspection happens every five days, according to the caretaker.

E-toilet behind Garuda Mall, Brigade Road

There are two stalls, one each for men and women. The surrounding area of the restrooms is filthy and heavily littered. A strong stench of urine envelopes the area. One is supposed to insert a coin of choice — Rs 1, Rs 2 or Rs 5 — to unlock the door. However, when Metrolife tried it, the door did not open upon inserting the coin. However, the strong smell and dirt around the area would make one think twice before using it, even if it did open. Many men often use the platform of the restrooms.

 

‘We plan to rope in private players to ensure cleanliness of Public toilets’

Metrolife spoke to BBMP commissioner B H Anil Kumar and this is what he had to say.

You said four different types of toilets will be installed in the city...
Depending on how much space we get in a particular area, we have come up with four designs where we can use good quality materials.

Metrolife visited public toilets across the city and found that the ones on the outskirts (outside CBD) were dirty and unhygienic. How will you ensure the cleanliness of
the new ones?

We plan to have a contract to ensure that cleanliness is maintained. Some of the washrooms will be pay-and-use toilets so that the maintenance is carried out by a private partner. We also plan to redesign the components used in the construction of these washrooms, which will allow for easy maintenance. For examples, tiles can break easily, so we will replace that with granite.

One e-toilet that our reporter visited didn’t open. It was an automatic toilet with a coin-operated door. Why did that happen? Does someone go to check it is fully functional?
As per an OLM contract, a person is supposed to be in charge of ensuring that these e-toilets are functioning properly. It shouldn’t happen that it is not working, we will check into it. It could be some malfunction. However, in such situations, citizens can call the BBMP control room. 

What will be the penalty for people relieving themselves in the open?
We have prescribed urination in public and open defecation as punishable offences in our Public Space Management Rules. The penalty is Rs 500 for first-time offenders and Rs 700 for subsequent offenders. However, I think the penalty is low and should be hiked.

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