Yesterday, November 19, the world marked World Toilet Day. That the world needs a Toilet Day may be laughable to some, but it highlights the importance of hygiene and why much of the world still has no access to this most basic sanitation.
Let us narrow down the focus to Mumbai, and the importance of marking a day for toilets has even more resonance here. A city, which is bursting at the seams, simply has too few toilets in public places. Newspapers regularly carry reports about the unsanitary conditions of toilets on railway platforms, for instance.
Some time ago, one NGO held a conference at a Matunga college, where they stressed initiatives in rural belts to build toilets for women. This was the one contributing factor they explained that improved the lives of women in these areas. While toilets may be taken for granted in cities, this is not so in rural areas where women have to go in the open.
Even in our cities, how many times have we seen people relieving themselves in the open, contributing to the dirt and disease that can make the surroundings a breeding ground for ailments? People, too, need to have civic sense and from a young age it should be ingrained in them that the city’s walls and pavements are not their toilets.
Corporators must do their best to ensure at least some usable toilets in their wards. Why must we have so many controversies about Sulabhs Shauchalayas in the city? Let people too use public toilets with decency, respect and responsibility. Let us make the toilet issue one to count when electing our local representatives and make it a priority. It is time to raise a stink (pun intended) about the paucity and state of public toilets.