Why do of­fi­cials wait for us to raise a stink?

Mid Day - - COMMENT -

hi­wandi res­i­dents don’t know where to go. Many of them are forced to defe­cate in the open, be­cause pub­lic toi­lets built for them are ei­ther in a poor state or have shut down al­to­gether.

For all the claims of mak­ing the city open defe­ca­tion-free (ODF), an ac­tivist has al­leged that many pub­lic toi­lets re­main un­us­able and non­func­tional, de­spite the au­thor­i­ties hav­ing spent a sub­stan­tial amount on re­pairs.

Then there’s the big­ger pic­ture. We have to won­der why it takes an ac­tivist to dig out in­for­ma­tion about pub­lic loos, about how much money is spent on them. Where has the money been spent? Why are some loos un­us­able? What has been done with the money needed for re­pairs and main­te­nance? Why do some toi­lets not have wa­ter? Why are some toi­lets peren­ni­ally locked? Why are some toi­let blocks yet to be in­au­gu­rated, wait­ing for some po­lit­i­cal big­wig to do the hon­ours?

Th­ese ques­tions are com­mon to all pub­lic toi­let blocks in the city. At this time, when we are do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to give even more cre­dence to the claim of an ODF city, let us en­sure that pub­lic loos are ac­ces­si­ble ev­ery­where, in the city and in the sub­urbs, satel­lite towns and sur­round­ing ar­eas.

Pub­lic loos are a right and a ne­ces­sity. They are, in fact, the most po­tent weapon in our ef­forts to make this an ODF coun­try, not just city or state. They are an ex­ten­sion of the spirit of Swachch Bharat Ab­hiyaan. Let the au­thor­i­ties en­sure that they are ac­ces­si­ble, clean, func­tional and that the com­mon man ac­tu­ally has some re­course to com­plain in case the pub­lic toi­lets re­main non-func­tional. It should not take an RTI in­ves­ti­ga­tion or ac­tivists to bring the mat­ter to light. Elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives: Stay alert, proac­tive and alive to the sit­u­a­tion.

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