| Gauhati High Court |
Guwahati, Aug. 22: Gauhati High Court today admitted a PIL on lack of separate toilets for women in the city and issued notices to the state government agencies, including the GMC and the GMDA.
The PIL was filed by two women journalists, Nitali Sarmah and Sulakshana Mithi Kachari, seeking the court’s help to direct government agencies to maintain separate toilets for women in all locations under the GMC.
A division bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice A.K. Goel and Justice A.K. Goswami, during hearing today issued notices to the state government, GMC and the GMDA and fixed November 18 for next hearing.
“The court admitted the PIL and issued notices to the respondents today. This is a serious public interest issue as the city, which has a population of over 12 lakh, does not have a separate public toilet for women. Hundreds of women from outside visit the city daily but face problems because of lack of separate toilets,” Bhaskar Dev Konwar, counsel for the petitioners, said.
The petitioners, citing data accessed through RTI applications, informed the court that there were toilets, constructed by the GMDA and run by Guwahati Naba Udya Society, an NGO, at Machkhowa, Tarun Ram Phukan Park, Nehru Park, State Zoo, Chandmari, Ulubari and Silpukhuri. But there were no separate toilets for women.
In response to the RTI applications, the GMC had informed that there was a toilet inside Fancy Bazar market and at Adabari bus terminus, too, but without separate facility for women.
The petitioners identified areas like Khanapara, Six Mile, Ganeshguri, Beltola Tiniali, Basistha Chariali, Panbazar, Paltan Bazar, Noonmati, Bamunimaidam, Guwahati Club, Maligaon Chariali and Jalukbari as areas having no public toilet.
“The authorities have not said anything regarding the status of existing toilets. Neither of the authorities has made any provision for separate public toilets for women in the city. The existing toilets for women, wherever provided, are in close vicinity of men’s toilets. This and lack of cleanliness keeps women from using these,” the PIL stated.