CHENNAI: Street dwellers in the city are having a hard time finding public washrooms to use, because of the lockdown. Already hard enough, most washroooms close by early evening, thus leaving these dwellers at lurch.
Nandini Vinoth, who lives on the pavement at Nainiappan Naicken street said, the public toilet there opens at 6 am and is locked by noon. "Anyone who needs to use the washroom post noon has no option but to search for an open space. It is all the more difficult for women. We are having to dig pits, and relieve ourselves," she said.
Senthil Kumar, who lives at Perambur Barracks street said, there is only one washroom for the 70-odd families that are on footpath there. "The washroom is not even cleaned with phenoyl here, forget disinfection. Since it gets locked by 9.30 pm, we have to walk all the way to Stanley hospital to relieve ourselves," he said.
These dwellers are mostly daily-wage laborers, currently jobless due to the lockdown. However, they are still forced to pay anywhere between `3-10, each time they use the washroom.
"We are struggling for meals, still are forced to pay for toilets. The government says the charge is for cleaning, but washrooms are mostly dirty. At least, till the lockdown ends, we must be allowed to use it for free," S Sridhar, president of Pavement Dwellers' Rights Association said.
When contacted, a senior official from the Greater Chennai Corporation said, the matter will be discussed with local zonal officials.