Wednesday, October 29, 2008

These toilets are not so ‘nirmala’

These toilets are not so ‘nirmala’

Deepika Arwind

— Photo:V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Unhygienic: A Nirmala toilet in Bangalore:

Bangalore: As one visits public toilets in different parts of the city, it is evident that their maintenance is not consistent, and each of them has different problems. However, there are some problems common to all — the most visibly among them being broken flush tanks.

While one would expect water supply to be a biggest problem in public toilets, the problem of broken fittings and fixtures precedes it. For instance, the two public toilets near the Shivajinagar Bus station get their water supply from a borewell. The reasonably well-maintained toilet inside this large bus station does not have any scarcity of water, but most of the flush tanks are broken, resulting in poor hygienic conditions despite availability of water.

The “Nirmala Shauchalaya” next to the bus station has the same problem, and seems to be less-taken care of. Broken and dirty toilet seats and commodes are a common sight here.

A “Nirmala Shauchalaya” toilet in Jayanagar III Block has a borewell as does the public toilet cum bath-house on St. Marks Road. However, weekly caretakers at both the places complain that basins and flush-tanks are almost always broken. Navaratna, who takes care of the Nirmala Shauchalaya in Jayanagar III Block says that there are times when the toilets are broken into at night.

“People break the basins and steal the taps and we have to replace them with plastic taps we get in the local stores,” says Ms. Navaratna. As workers from the construction site in the vicinity use the toilet often, it needs to be cleaned again and again, according to her. “Sometimes, I clean it close to 60 to 70 times a day,” she adds. The toilet is fairly clean and people who use it do not have any complaints, except for the broken toilet seats and commodes.“Four months ago some people from the Bangalore Bruhat Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) came to ask us if there were any complaints, but after that nothing has happened,” says Ms. Navaratna.

Another public toilet in Jayanagar IV Block close to the Jain Temple has the same problems of flush tanks and fittings, but caretakers of the public toilet say that BBMP workers come there regularly to inspect the toilets, yet those who use it are not satisfied with its condition.

On St. Marks Road, users of the public toilet cum bath-house have many complaints. “More than the toilet itself, the area around it stinks,” says Bhaskar, who has a mobile cigarette shop nearby and uses the toilet at least three times a day.

“Instead of paying a rupee or two to use the toilet, people use its outside walls as a urinal. Even the inside of the toilet is quite dirty,” he complains.

Devaki Umesh, BBMP Health Commissioner, West Zone, says that one of the main problems that they face is that of people’s attitudes. “If they see a whole drum of water, they just have a cold water bath and leave the toilet, leaving no water for others,” she says, adding that sometimes users of the toilet do not pay.

There are 80 Nirmala Bangalore Toilets in the West Zone and 50 per cent of them have water problems and electricity problems.


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