Pissed off with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for not complying with its orders to construct ladies’ toilets more than a year ago, the Bombay High Court (HC) has now set a March 8 deadline for the civic body, so that the washrooms are in place right in time for the International Women’s Day. According to the HC directives last Monday, ladies’ toilets should be located every oneand-a-half kilometres in the city, especially at marketplaces. The PMC model is also to be followed by eight other municipal corporations.
“We are happy that the HC has set adeadline for developing the toilets. It will be contempt of court if PMC fails.We have been pursuing this issue for the last four years. Along with PMC officials, we have framed guidelines for proper infrastructure and mechanism to take care of the maintenance. The civic body has already begun work at Warje, in Kothrud area. It is possible to cover the entire city before March 8,“ said Dr Gitali Mukund, representative of Milun Saryajani, the women’s rights organisation that had filed a public interest litigation in 2011, regarding the few and poorly maintained ladies toilets in the city. This had prompted the HC to ask PMC for more and better toilets in April 2014.
However, nothing had transpired since then. Last year, the court had issued instructions to conduct a proper inspection of toilets across the city to get to know the ground realities. A ward-level survey was even conducted by Milun Saryajani and PM Shah Foundation, which brought to the fore the horrible condition of ladies’ toilets. Except for two newly-constructed toilets, one at Satara Road near Adinath Society and the other at Mandai, all the others were in a shambles -with no provisions for continuous water supply, poorly maintained, unhygienic and unsafe. Most of the toilets are not visible at public places like bus stands and markets. A report was submitted to the HC, after which PMC had assured of improving the conditions.
“But, as the civic body has not taken any constructive measures to im prove the situation in the city, the court has now set a deadline. If the PMC does not follow the deadline, it will have to face legal action. We are ready to cooperate with the civic body for infrastructure and have suggested that it form a committee to streamline the process,“ said Chetan Gandhi, director of PM Shah Foundation.
Rashmi Date, the member of yet another women’s group, Sakhi Manch, spoke of how deplorable the conditions were at the existing ladies’ toilets, saying, “It’s the worst at government offices, railway stations and the bus stands. Hence, besides PMC, other departments should also make efforts to maintain the washrooms properly. We are going to send a complaint letter to each government office about this issue.“
On his part, Suresh Jagtap, head of PMC’s solid waste management department, assured, “We have already started installing toilets. Work has been completed on the outskirts. The problem was in the core city area and marketplace. We cannot set up toilets on the footpath and we don’t have space to build toilets in the city area. We have suggested a provision for ladies’ toilets in the Development Plan (DP). Additional toilets will be constructed alongside existing gents’ toilets.“
Source : Pune Mirror