Hold it back | india | Hindustan Times
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Hold it back

With inadequate toilets and antiquated sewerage, it is no surprise that health hazards and epidemics loom large on our society, writes Vandana Chopra.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2007 23:33 IST

The other day on a long morning drive to the kids’ school, nature called. While I tried various yogic poses to calm the tummy in turmoil, the pressure piled. I realised in my mid-life, this was one call I could not ignore. A long hard look at the tree-lined road provided no relief. I saw men relieving themselves every 100 metres and wished I wasn’t a woman. It was at a hospital where I found solace. My children sat in the car disgusted at their mother’s escapade. In fact, while ferrying them back in the afternoon I noticed a clean toilet at a petrol station and quickly made a mental note of the same for future calls.

There is a direct co-relation between sanitation and a developed society. It has been proved that good toilets provide a critical link between order and disorder and between good and bad environment. In India, sewerage facilities are available to less than 30 per cent of the urban population. With inadequate toilets and antiquated sewerage, it is no surprise that health hazards and epidemics loom large on our society.

While visiting South Delhi markets, Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar, one would presume that these would be better off than busy streets. But even though public toilet facilities do exist, they are abysmal. A Department of Tourism-sponsored site warns travellers to India: “Public toilet facilities are few and far between, and those that are there should not be ventured into. Take every opportunity you can to use a clean toilet in places such as hotels and restaurants. Make this a habit wherever you go.”

Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the man who revolutionised toilet facilities with his Sulabh toilets, equated poor toilet facilities to a greater social challenge than literacy, poverty, education and employment. His reasoning being that lack of excremental hygiene was a national health hazard.

So till the big revolution takes place, the great Indian bladder has no choice but to hold.