Commuters' loo woes to be flushed away

This piece of news may come as a relief to many train commuters. Following the thousands of complaints about the unhygienic and lack of toilet facilities at various railway stations, the Slum Board of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has decided to construct public toilets at different stations. Mahim and Govandi will be the first few stations that will be receiving the toilets on a trial basis.

Railway stations toilets
Most women commuters complain that the toilets present at the railway stations are very dirty and emit foul odour. Also most of the times, the toilets remain shut. Pic for Representation

Confirming the same, Anand Rayte, chief officer, MHADA, Slum Board, said, “It is a known fact that there is a shortage of public toilets on railway platforms, which often forces several commuters to defaecate in the open. Many female commuters have also demanded more toilets.

Taking this into consideration, the public representatives have decided to contribute a part of their MP fund to the slum board in order to construct more lavatories. A proposal has already been sent to the Ministry of Railways and on a trial basis two toilets will be built, one at Mahim station on the western line and the other at Govandi on the harbour line.”

If the plan is successful more lavatories will be built at other stations. The cost for the construction will be Rs 25 lakh-30 lakh and each toilet will have 10 stalls for women and men each. However, it is not all good news. If the past is anything to go by, then these toilets may also be doomed. In the past, the slum board built 4,000 toilets but none of them were connected to the civic body’s main sewer line causing foul emissions and creating unhygienic conditions.

When questioned about the same, an official from the slum board said, “We will be working in close coordination with the BMC and the Railways and all necessary permissions will be taken. We will also see to it that the toilets constructed on railway platforms will be connected to BMC sewer lines so that there are no problems.”

Over 12,000 toilet seats needed
According to a survey-based study conducted in 2010 by Observer Research Foundation (ORF), commuters especially women avoid toilets due to their terrible state of neglect. Moreover, the report highlighted that there is a provision for only 355 toilet seats and 673 urinals on the CST to Kasara-Khopoli stretch on the main line and between CST to Panvel on the Harbour Line.

It also stated that 93 per cent of the toilets that were found to be ‘closed’ or ‘out of use’ were intended for women. The report also mentions that by the standards of the best suburban railway networks in hte US, the UK and China, the Mumbai suburban rail network should have 12,600 toilet seats to serve the needs of its commuters. Thus, the shortfall is more than 12,000 toilet seats.

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