|A dilapidated public toilet near Old Bus Stand in Bhubaneswar.
Picture by Ashwinee Pati
Bhubaneswar, July 25: Nature’s call will be easier to answer even when you’re on the move in the busiest parts of town once two projects to build public toilets is complete.
One of the projects, funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), aims to build 31 public toilets, while the other, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, plans to build 49 toilets. Of these 49, 27 will be public toilets and 22 will be community toilets built in slum areas for use of the local community.
Both projects are expected to be completed by 2014.
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has identified 27 sites for the construction of the public toilets to be built with funds from the Gates Foundation.
The sites include busy places such as Unit-I and Unit-VIII. The corporation is yet to identify spots where the community toilets would be built. BMC has signed an agreement with Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab and Quicksand Design Studio Private Limited to prepare a detailed project report.
The corporation is also planning to renovate the 38 existing public toilets in the city. “The toilets will come up on the busiest stretches and market places of the city. The population of the city has been on the rise and the existing public toilets cannot meet the demand. Once the detailed project report is ready, we will start building the toilets,” said city engineer T.B.K. Shroff.
The corporation also plans to introduce a card system for community toilet users. “We have been creating awareness in various slums to urge people to use toilets. We are also thinking of providing cards to community dwellers to use toilets by paying a monthly charge between Rs 15 and Rs 30,” said a senior BMC official.
Sources in the BMC said 31 public toilets would be built in Bhubaneswar with assistance from the JICA under the low-cost sanitation programme. The toilets would be built at an estimated cost of Rs 5.16 crore.
Lack of adequate public toilets has been a major concern for residents, especially women in the city. Most public places such as market complexes and exhibition grounds lack toilet facilities. This leads to a sanitation problem.
“The city has been expanding rapidly. Lack of adequate toilets in this scenario is a violation of human rights. The stretch between Vani Vihar Square and Master Canteen Square is one of the busiest stretches in the city, but it does not have a single public toilet,” said city-based human right activist Prabir Das.
Though the city will have more than 100 toilets after the completion of all the above projects, residents are sceptical about the maintenance of the toilets. “If the proposed toilets are not maintained properly, they will add to the unsanitary conditions in the city,” said Nihar Sathpaty, a resident of Saheed Nagar.