Sanjay Deshpande, director, Sanjeevani Group. (Illustration: Shrikrishna Patkar)(Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO)
Sanjay Deshpande, director, Sanjeevani Group. (Illustration: Shrikrishna Patkar)(Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO)

Pune on my mind:Our city has everything; except public hygiene and mass transport, says Sanjay Deshpande

According to Sanjay Deshpande, director,Sanjeevani Group Pune needs an action plan for the good maintenance of the surviving public toilets
Hindustan Times, Pune | By Sanjay Deshpande
UPDATED ON JUL 02, 2019 02:30 PM IST

Right from education to culture to entertainment to jobs… Pune has everything for its citizens. Only two things are missing and they are, public hygiene and public transport.

Go to any good city around the world and you will find that the public toilets and public transport stations - be it bus stops or rail stations serve as a mirror, reflecting not just cleanliness, but accessibility and availability in numbers for the citizens.

Pune lacks tremendously on this front, especially the public toilets. While we have been growing on every front, the number of public toilets on the streets have been reducing. Of those that are surviving; well, just go and try using any of those public toilets.

I am a resident of west Pune and in the eight kilometre stretch from Deccan to Karvenagar there are hardly four public urinal blocks and just one WC (waste chamber) block. Barring the one that we at Sanjeevani Developers have been maintaining, all others either stink or have been locked because of reasons like no water supply or complaints from the neighbouring residents about the nuisance caused by the public toilet block.

This situation is similar elsewhere in the city. Imagine thousands of people, especially women on the roads, who struggle for their day-to-day needs and we as a city can’t even provide them the basic facility of a public toilet! What kind of a Smart City are we living in?

In fact, when a city’s population is growing rapidly and we are urging more and more people to use public transport and are creating pedestrian-friendly roads with wide footpaths, people are bound to feel nature’s call. This is most essential for all those on the roads for long stretches of time.

On the one hand there is the need for public toilet blocks and on the other, people are demanding demolition of those existing because of poor maintenance. Wow! Pune claims to be a progressive city, but in reality, all of us are hypocrites.

First and foremost, what we need is an action plan for the good maintenance of the surviving public toilets. We then need a masterplan for new toilet blocks and show it on the city development plan so as it can’t be challenged by neighbourhood residents who would also be aware of the plan.

We then need to appeal to all business houses, industries, educational institutes and IT companies in the city to adopt one public toilet and maintain it. We can’t be depending on the government for everything. If this city has given us something, then we also need to be grateful and pay back. What could be better than giving a wonderful, clean public toilet as a gift to the city as it can be used by every citizen?

With due respect to my Nagpur blood, I would say of our beloved Pune that over the past four decades, it has given something to everyone. Today, Pune is charged with the fusion of old worldly charm and new hip-hop culture. If you look around the history of cities only those cities have survived the test of time which have evolved and delivered over time.

In her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs has observed very pertinently that: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

Indeed, we the citizens of Pune hold this city’s future in our hands. If we just keep pointing fingers towards each other and do nothing about Pune’s problems, needless to say, our future as a city will be doomed.

My Earliest Memories of Pune

This city has given me my past which consists of the most wonderful memories; like walking on the calm streets of Prabhat road and BMCC road under the shadow of trees aligned on both sides of the roads. Summers used to be pleasant in Pune.

One Change That I Want To See In Pune

Every citizen respecting civic sense and following basic traffic rules. Even if each one of us takes an oath to be a responsible citizen, I think 80 per cent of our problems will be solved on their own.

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