It is a classic case of ‘inconvenience’ when it comes to public conveniences in Dehradun. The number of public toilets in the state capital is low as compared to the population. There is only one toilet available for around 8,800 persons on an average in the city.
According to 2011 Census, the population within the local body area is 5.98 lakh, including an additional floating population of around 20,000 persons who visit the city daily. As per the figures provided by DMC, there are a total of 68 public toilets in the city managed by four different bodies, DMC, Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, State Urban Development Agency (SUDA) and Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA).
DEARTH OF PUBLIC TOILETS
According to Sulabh International, a social service organisation that works to promote sanitation, at least 500 public toilets should be there for a population of around 6 lakh in an urban area.
Thus, Dehradun appears to fall drastically short of the desired number. Sulabh’s Dehradun secretary Uday Kumar Singh underlined why Dehradun needs more public toilets. “Besides its own population, the floating population of Dehradun, including the number of daily tourists it receives, is high and so more toilets are required here. In fact, public toilets are needed more in the slum areas than the main town,” he said.
As the matter concerns public health and sanitation, the shortage of public lavatories is unfortunate, said Bhagwat Prasad Makwana, former chairman of Uttarakhand Commission for Safai Karmacharis.
“It is a serious matter which has a direct connection with public health. The local body should make efforts to increase number of public toilets, especially in the slum and busy crowded areas. More public toilets would also mean more employment opportunities for sanitation workers,” Makwana told Hindustan Times.
“The scarcity of public toilets, especially in the bustling marketplaces, can be any woman’s nightmare as they obviously cannot relieve themselves in open spaces unlike men,” said Savita Nautiyal, a resident of Karanpur area. Demanding more lavatories in public spaces, Jakhan corporator Daya Joshi said, “The number of public toilets in the city should go up especially in the market areas where women are regular visitors. It will not only to improve public sanitation but also to bring relief to womenfolk,” she said.
TRADERS FACE INCONVENIENCE
Besides the womenfolk, one of the biggest sections that feels the pinch of lack of public toilets is that of local traders who are often forced to answer nature’s calls in the open.
There are around 120 small and big markets in the state capital, most of which lack in adequate number of public lavatories. “It’s an inconvenience for all the shopkeepers who are forced to relieve themselves in the open or nearby lanes. We don’t like this practice but there’s no other option,” rued Prakash Singh, a trader based in DL Road market.
It is worth recalling that lack of public toilet led to a row in Ballupur Chowk area of the city recently after a local trader was found urinating in public. Some market areas which face trouble include Paltan Bazaar, Dhamawala, Sarnimal Market, Dispensary Road Bazaar, DL Road, Kargi Bazaar and Niranjanpur market.
Demanding instant action in the matter, Umesh Agarwal, president of Dehradun Traders’ Association, said, “The municipal corporation and concerned MLAs (members of legislative assemblies)/MP (member of parliament) should come together to solve this problem and release money from development funds to set up sufficient number of public toilets in the city.”
SHORTAGE OF SPACE
The Dehradun Municipal Corporation (DMC), which is entrusted with the task of maintaining public sanitation and hygiene, has been unable to set up new toilets in the city owing to lack of funds and space. According to DMC authorities, the main problem is dearth of free space for developing public conveniences in the city. “The current figure of public toilets is not enough and needs to go up. In fact, we have been receiving several requests to set up fresh public toilets in many areas but we are facing problem of lack of space. We are scouting for possible (vacant) areas where new toilets could be built,” city mayor Vinod Chamoli told HT.
MOBILE TOILET: AN ALTERNATIVE
Many corporators feel that introduction of mobile toilets (temporary toilets that are set up in areas where constructing permanent toilets is a difficult task) can be a reasonable alternative to the problem. Leader of the opposition in DMC, Ninu Sehgal, who has been pushing for this demand in the current DMC board, said, “Existing public toilets are not adequate for the population of the city.
While the number of public toilets should go up by 50% in the long run, introducing mobile toilets in the interim can come as a quick relief,” Sehgal told HT. “They will act as a boon for ladies to say the least,” Anita Singh, corporator of ward Patel Nagar concluded.