No right to pee for Mumbai women

Jun 13, 2012, 06:56 IST | Rinkita Gurav and Anuradha Varanasi

The 'Right to pee' committee visited 129 toilet blocks in four months and in its report has criticised the existing facilities for women; has suggested construction of more toilets and better maintenance

A committee appointed by the civic body to survey toilet facilities for women in the city, in its report, has revealed that most ladies toilets lack basic amenities, women are charged extra for usage, and most of them are exclusively for men. The report submitted to the civic body last week states that number of women leaving home for work, education, and other social purposes has increased over the years, and this necessitates the need to build more public toilets.

Loo Survey

When MiD DAY visited five public toilets in M-East and M-West Ward, the findings of the committee’s report were substantiated
Although Rs 3 should be charged for bathing in the city, users were being asked to pay Rs 10. Citizens using public toilets in Chembur were clearly being overcharged, especially, for using bathing facilities.

Sulabh Shouchalaya, Diamond Garden is one such place where patrons are forced to pay Rs 10 for bathing and Rs 2 for using the urinal. However, for using the toilet they were paying Rs 3, though the board clearly states Rs 2 for ‘sandaas’. On questioning the person at the counter, Dev Chandragiri (42), he said, “We take Re 1 extra for gents who want to use the toilets and Rs 2 for use of urinals. Ladies are supposed to pay Rs 2 as well for using our toilets.”

Chembur railway station’s only public toilet, also charges Re 1 extra for gents who want to use the toilets. For using the urinals, however, they have to pay Rs 2. People who want to use the bathroom have to pay Rs 10. Ananth Panchar (37), said, “Women have to pay only Rs 2 for using the toilets but gents have to pay Re 1 extra. We  have more gents using the toilets than women.”

Rotary Club’s public toilet, Deonar, is another place where Rs 3 is charged for using the urinals and toilets, and Rs 10 for bathing. Pics/Suresh KK

Mumbai Mahanagar Palika Sulabh Shouchalaya, Deonar, is another public toilet where people are forced to pay Re 1 extra when the board again clearly states consumers are supposed to pay Rs 2 for using the toilets and Rs 3 for bathing. This public toilet, however, has no bathing facilities available to users. Raju Tilwar (24), the person collecting money, said, “Ladies anyway never use the bathing facilities that are provided in public toilets and we don’t have any room for gents to bathe here.”

Mumbai Mahanagar Palika shouchalaya, Acharya College, Chembur, also charges people Rs 10 for use of the bathroom. They however charge only Re 1 for using urinals and Rs 2 for toilets.

The ‘Right to Pee’ committee along with civic officials surveyed 129 toilet blocks between November 2011 and March 2012 in M-West, M-East, N, G-South and G-North wards. According to the report, the most critical aspect that came to light was that toilets should have free urinals, but attendants were found to be charging users anywhere between Rs 2 to Rs 5 for urinals. It was also revealed that most of the toilets were unclean and didn’t have basic facilities like water and electricity. Moreover, toilet blocks that have to be provided with soap, mirror, dustbins, and washbasins, according to BMC rules, didn’t have any, and the ones that did have them were not in a usable condition. The interiors had stains and garbage lay strewn around. At some toilets, offensive images were visible on the walls. The drainage system was dysfunctional with water spewing on the floor. According to the rules, the toilets must have complaint registers, which were not found anywhere.

“All the reasons and findings stated in the report are correct and we have already begun working towards it. Other international cities have first class public toilets and we do not even have basic facilities here. And the ones we do have are not being maintained well. We would also set up sanitary napkin machines for women in each toilet, which is another basic necessity,” said BMC’s Standing Committee Chairman Rahul Shewale who had proposed building of toilets for women after a delegation of women from 39 NGOs had launched a campaign to demand better public toilet facilities for women.

He further mentioned that the committee has suggested repair work to some toilet blocks and suggested building blocks for women around the existing ones. For a city that requires 34,000 public toilets there are only 10,500, most of which are exclusively for men. To change this situation the civic body had asked a group of NGOs to carry out the survey and recommend the number of toilets and the kind of system required for women.

Number of public toilets required for the city

No of public toilets constructed in the city 

Glaring discrepancies
Of the total 1,770 toilet seats, 1,033 are for men and only 737 for women.

Of the 121 bathrooms, 86 are for men and 35 for women. All the 419 urinals were only reserved for men. 

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