Despite several relevant suggestions from experts in the field, women-specific amenities such as maternity homes, public toilets and crèches have been completely ignored in the city’s draft development plan (DP) 2034, claim NGOs working for women.
The draft DP has included the needs of women working in the organised and unorganised sector under the larger head of ‘social amenities’. This, effectively, makes their infrastructure dependent on land pooling from private developers. Moreover, the DP states some of the amenities included under ‘social amenities’ require smaller plots, and so it is not possible to indicate reservations for all of them.
“We had more than four consultations with all stakeholders concerned. Our detailed suggestions on gender-specific planning were submitted to the DP committee. We were expecting the DP will reflect an understanding of gender, but the DP’s approach is gender-insensitive. Earmarking of plots for various amenities has not been followed in the plan,” said Dr Nandita Shah, co-director, Akshara, a non-profit organisation that works for a gender-just society.
The demands made by women’s groups were classified under seven categories —livelihood, transport, health, education, essential services, housing and public spaces. Suggestions such as creation of separate units in hospitals for women who are victims of domestic violence and encouraging mixed land-use areas with the around-the-clock activities, too, were made. During the discussion, places such as the Bandra-Kurla Complex were termed unsafe for women because it had no shops or hawkers.
But none of these explanations seem to have been considered while drafting the plan for the next 20 years.
In case of public toilets, the civic body has set a benchmark of 0.013 sqm of public sanitary convenience per capita. But in the absence of a separate reservation for toilets, the provision may not be guaranteed.
“If there is no specific reservation, then usage of land for construction of toilets is left to the discretion of officials. We have raised the importance of constructing public toilets, but the BMC still seems to be doing what it thinks fit,” said Mumtaz Shaikh, member of the BMC’s committee on pay-and-use toilets and the Right to Pee campaign.