Maintaining public loos is the real task

Jan 07, 2014, 12:09 IST | MiDDAY Correspondent

Yesterday, this newspaper carried a report about a recently inaugurated public toilet at Kandivli (East), which has air-conditioners, an LDC TV and a sofa set.

The report states that the public loo also functions as a waiting area for freshening up. The swanky facility, commissioned by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) MLA, Pravin Darekar, has evoked mixed reactions.

While some have welcomed the public loo including the pricy trimmings saying it is a novel feature in the city, others have, with some merit, pointed out that add-ons like AC and TV could have been cut and yet another toilet built with that money, given the paucity of public loos in the city.

One sees the wisdom in the latter argument. Mumbai, with its population, has too few
toilets in public places. Corporators and MLAs need to put their funds into such basic facilities.

Once a public toilet is built, quality needs to be maintained and adequate hygienic measures should be taken so that the toilet does not emit a stench as is often seen in public places like some railway platforms.

People should be able to use the facility without risk to their health or fear of contracting

While the debate about this particular toilet will go on, with supporters stating that such an amenity is welcome and others slamming it, the talk now must move beyond whether the luxury is a waste or a welcome addition.

One has to see how this toilet is maintained. Security guards have been hired at this toilet. Do the women feel safe to use it? The real test will come in a month’s time perhaps, when one could check the condition of this loo, built from taxpayers’ money. One could also see then whether the sofa remains in mint condition and whether the television is still functioning.

Vandalism of public property is a problem across the city. We have seen how metal dustbins and sewer covers are routinely filched or broken and sold as metal scrap. Besides security, there also must be concerted efforts to keep this toilet clean and usable at all times. Let this loo, above all, be spotlessly clean, (people using it must also have respect for others) and actually herald the start of filling the void for other public toilets across the city.

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