mid-day campaign: For Mumbai police, there's no place to pee
mid-day checks out police station toilets across Mumbai and finds that missing urinals, faeces on floor tiles greet cops desperate to take a leak
The face-off between two police stations - Malad and Bangur Nagar - over the use of a toilet in the former's premises, kicked up quite a controversy recently. So, mid-day decided to take a look at the state of toilets at the other police stations across the city and came away choking on the stench.
The face-off between two police stations - Malad and Bangur Nagar - over using a toilet in the former's premises, kicked up quite a controversy until a senior police officer intervened. The intervention came on the day mid-day exposed the 'turd war' that arose because the Malad police had locked their toilet for use by Bangur Nagar staff to keep "hygiene intact".
JJ Marg police station washbasin. PICS/BIPIN KOKATEJJ Marg police station washbasin. Pics/Bipin Kokate
The ISO story
In an attempt to encourage maintaining police station infrastructure, former city police chief AN Roy had introduced an ambitious plan in 2005. It involved getting an ISO certification for all police stations across Mumbai. The idea was to pressurise the department to bring in transparency at work and improve infrastructure in order to secure the certificate.
ISO 9000 applies to the implementation of quality management principles within government and industry. It has to do with implementing quality management involving principles like customer focus, leadership and consistent improvement among others.
Missing male urinal pots at Marine drive police station
Toilets that kill certification
Over a decade ago, almost 50 per cent of Mumbai's police stations joined the world of standardising work practices. "But gradually, audits revealed that a few police stations had begun losing the certification owing to non-conformity to standardising principles," said a senior IPS officer (retired) requesting anonymity. This officer was involved in the ISO reform process almost two decades ago.
The poor janitorial maintenance of toilets in Mumbai's police stations now literally leaves a lasting stench with its visitors. The washroom floors are germ-laden, its doors either half-broken or with no locking system, an odour so foul, it will burn your eyes and leave you breathless. And if you thought of ridding yourself of all those germs following the visit, you hardly have the option to do that. The toilets lack liquid hand-wash or soap bars, and this, is unfortunately, not an exception.
Marine Drive police station toilet
The sob stink story
Washroom etiquette is probably not even a known word at the Marine Drive police station. Dried faeces all over the toilet bowl of its Indian toilets could make for a perfect picture to mock the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. The stench emanating from it almost burn your eyes and in order to cover up all of this, the door to the toilet is always kept shut.
The constables at the police station said there was no electricity supply in the washroom. "If you try to relieve yourself here, the mosquitoes bite you all over, to an extent that we sometimes carry a mosquito repellant stick inside," a police constable narrated.
But not using these is never an option, which is why policemen hold their breaths when answering nature's call amid the dreaded four walls, mostly painted with pan-spit. Another constable at the police station told mid-day that they are mostly out on duty for bandobast. "We go to the washroom just to pee. It does not matter to us whether it's clean or not because we have to be on our toes for bandobast or VIP movement," said the constable.
Colaba police station washbasin
Disaster waiting to happen
If the poor cleanliness picture wasn't tragic enough, the Marine Drive police station's washroom is also a junk storage space for police gear including rusty iron cuffs, headgears, iron-made armadillo shields, batons and more. These outdated gear, exposed to rain during monsoon, are kept on the net-supported iron angles covering the roof of the washroom. That they can collapse anytime is anybody's guess.
...they are all the same!
The picture was similar at the DB Marg police station too. Most of the male urinal pots her are broken, with men urinating onto the wall, and thus carrying back most of it out of the washroom on their shoes. The colour of the floor here makes it difficult to guess what the original one was. "There is no hand-wash soap. We wash our hands with soil or ash or some bring in their own paper soap," said a constable at the station.
The toilet at JJ Marg is next to its canteen and the pan-spit-painted wash basins. One of the taps of a washbasin is connected via a plastic pipe to the canteen where the water is used for washing utensils.
Nagpada police station too has the same story to tell. A visitor at this station headed towards the men's washroom only to realise how difficult it was to venture anywhere close to it. Since answering nature's call is not always a choice, he used a handkerchief to tightly cover his mouth and nose before entering the dreaded space. "The conditions of urinal pots here is pathetic. Yuck! They are riddled with multiple holes housing fungus gnats and drain flies. I don't know how people use this washroom. I can't," exclaimed Salim Khan, who was at the Nagpada police station for his passport verification, accompanied by a female - who could only hope she didn't need to use one!
Missing urinal at DB Marg police station. Pic/Bipn Kokate
Population and area the stations serve
Marine Drive police station
Population: 2 lakh
Area: 3 sq km
DB Marg police station:
Population: 4.5 lakh
Area: 5 sq km
Nagpada police station:
Population: 4.5 lakh
Area: 7 sq km
JJ Marg police station:
Population: 1.50 lakh
Area: 79,87,148 sq ft
Bangur Nagar police station:
Population: 4.5 lakh
Area: South-North 7 km, East-West 1.5 km
Malad police station:
Population: 4.25 lakh
Area: 20.23 sq km
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