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What a mess! Fed up with PMC's inaction, school removes toilet menace

No sooner had the all-girls Hujurpaga school taken matters into their own hands and removed the public men’s toilets outside its gate, than peeved PMC officials slapped a notice on the school board for not asking them before doing so

After two years of constant requests to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to remove the public gents’ toilets outside its gates, Hujurpaga Girls High School finally took matters in its own hands and removed the toilet booths.

Hujurpaga Girls High School earned the PMC’s ire by removing the public toilets outside its gate without taking the corporation’s permission. Pic/Shashank Sane
Hujurpaga Girls High School earned the PMC’s ire by removing the public toilets outside its gate without taking the corporation’s permission. Pic/Shashank Sane

Within no time, however, the PMC slapped a notice on the school administration for removing the toilets without the corporation’s permission, and could possibly even be considering placing new toilets at the very same spot.

mid-day had reported earlier that the school’s students who used the Bajirao Road entrance had to walk past the reeking gents’ toilets everyday on their way to class.

mid-day’s report on October 2
mid-day’s report on October 2

The school - located in the heart of the city, with one entrance opening on to Laxmi Road, and the other on Bajirao Road - had, over the past two years, repeatedly requested the PMC as well as the local corporator, Mukta Tilak, to shift the public toilets elsewhere.

However, they received the bizarre response that the civic body would not remove the toilets unless they found an alternate spot for them, which it had not managed to do in two years.

“The recent assurance we got from the PMC was that they would remove the toilets after model code of conduct ended. But, the basic fact is that the school had set up these two transferable toilets on its own, and not the PMC.

Hence, we finally decided to remove both toilet blocks,” said Rekha Palshikar, secretary of the Maharashtra Girls Education Society (MGES), which oversees the school.

To be sure, it should be noted that the school had expanded its campus two years ago, building the new gate towards Bajirao Road in the process. At the time, it had an understanding with the PMC,that it would provide permanent public toilets on its campus, on the condition that the public toilets outside the new gate would be removed.

The school then built a 300- sq-foot toilet for women in the basement, explaining that it could only allow women to access the toilet, as it was a girls-only campus. The PMC stayed adamant, however, that the toilet booths outside would not be removed because there was no other arrangement for men.

But, as a senior local PMC official had confided to this newspaper earlier, there are already two public toilets nearby - at Appa Balwant Chowk and near the Vishrambaug Wada ward office.

Unabashed, as soon as the school finally removed the toilets last week, the PMC sent a notice to the school’s board. Assistant Municipal Commissioner of the Vishrambaug Wada ward office, Madhav Deshpande, who sent the notice, said, “As the school has removed the toilets without PMC’s permission, I have sent the notice. We have already told them that we will act in the matter soon after model code of conduct ceases to apply.”

Back to square one?
In fact, the civic board is even considering placing new toilet booths at the very same spot, which will bring the dispute back to where it began. “Even though it is true that both toilet booths were placed there by the school as a temporary arrangement, they should have checked with the corporation before removing them. We may place new toilet booths at the same spot. The decision in this regard has not been finalised yet,” he added.

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