Midday Editorial: Why do officials wait for us to raise a stink?

Nov 15, 2017, 06:43 IST | Team mid day

Bhiwandi residents don't know where to go. Many of them are forced to defecate in the open, because public toilets built for them are either in a poor state or have shut down altogether. For all the claims of making the city open defecation-free (ODF), an activist has alleged that many public toilets remain unusable and non-functional, despite the authorities having spent a substantial amount on repairs. Then there's the bigger picture. We have to wonder why it takes an activist to dig out information about public loos, about how much money is spent on them. Where has the money been spent? Why are some loos unusable? What has been done with the money needed for repairs and maintenance? Why do some toilets not have water? Why are some toilets perennially locked? Why are some toilet blocks yet to be inaugurated, waiting for some political bigwig to do the honours?

These questions are common to all public toilet blocks in the city. At this time, when we are doing everything we can to give even more credence to the claim of an ODF city, let us ensure that public loos are accessible everywhere, in the city and in the suburbs, satellite towns and surrounding areas. Public loos are a right and a necessity. They are, in fact, the most potent weapon in our efforts to make this an ODF country, not just city or state. They are an extension of the spirit of Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan. Let the authorities ensure that they are accessible, clean, functional and that the common man actually has some recourse to complain in case the public toilets remain non-functional. It should not take an RTI investigation or activists to bring the matter to light. Elected representatives: Stay alert, proactive and alive to the situation.

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