Mayor says city needs over 500 toilets for women, but PMC yet to implement plan; today only 62 urinals for women exist
Even as the PMC is gearing up to celebrate World Toilet Day on November 19, the civic body's website has sketchy information about the number of toilets in the city and the progress on the plans of mobile toilets and separate toilets for women. There is reportedly no mention of this information on the Environmental Status Report (ESR) as well.
The civic body's website states that there are 3,500 WC seats and 103 fibre urinals for the population of 2.5 lakh people. Currently, there are only 62 public urinals for women in the city. The Environmental Cell of the PMC, who has taken the initiative to celebrate the day, will organise an elocution competition for school students. Mangesh Dighe, Environmental Officer of the PMC, said, "The theme will be based on sanitation and what can be done to improve the present facilities."
10 mobile toilets
Mayor Mohansingh Rajpal said that the city requires more than 500 toilets for women. "But we are yet to implement the plan. PMC has 10 mobile toilets in the city which are used during public functions and festivals," he said.
Sujata Kodak, founder of Eco Logic Foundation said, "The condition of the PMC public toilets are quite sad. There are no public toilets for women at Tulshibaug near Mahatma Phule Vegetable Market. By observing World Toilet Day, we hope there will be awareness and adequate public toilets for everyone in the city. Ideally there should be one toilet for 30 persons, but all the toilets are in bad shape and not maintained properly." Sharad Mahajan, president of MASHAL, who works for slum dwellers, also agreed that the civic body should increase the number of toilets and ensure proper maintenance.
15 toilets shut down
Noted RTI activist Vinod Jain said that there are at least 15 toilets in the city, which are shut down. "The reason is that they are poorly maintained or they want to demolish these toilets."
'We have mobile phones but no toilets'
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh in a recent statement to the media said, "I am concerned. The biggest challenge I am facing, as a rural development minister, is to educate people about sanitation. Sixty per cent of all open defaecation in the world is in India. Today, if you go to many parts of India, you have women with a mobile phone, going out to answer the call of nature. I mean it is paradoxical...you have a mobile phone and you don't have a toilet. When you have a toilet, you don't use the toilet... use it as a godown."
The other side
Suresh Jagtap, deputy commissioner of the solid waste management department said that the condition of all the toilets in the city have improved and the civic body has a total of 900 staff to clean these toilets everyday. He dismissed allegations of the bad maintenance of these toilets. Sunil Kesri, ward officer, Vishrambaug Office, also said that the condition of public toilets and urinals are better. The closed toilets in the city shall be soon converted into toilets for women, he said.