HYDERABAD: The 3,000 public toilets constructed by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) across the city are in a deplorable state, reflecting the rank negligence of officials in fixing an agency that would take care of their maintenance. When Express visited about 50 to 60 toilets in various parts of the city, they were filled with dirt and were emitting a foul smell. There were also shockingly surrounded by garbage, making them look like the festering sores of the city.
In many of the toilets, doors were stolen and the insides damaged beyond the scope of repairs. There was also no water supply or drainage connection to them. Though the GHMC has set up notice boards stating that the toilets are under construction, the construction had been finished long ago and the toilets were later damaged by miscreants. A few days ago, Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MAUD) Minister KT Rama Rao read out the riot act to municipal officials tarnishing the image of Hyderabad by leaving public toilets to the mercy of the elements. However, no action seemed to have followed.
When Express visited some of the toilets, many people were seen urinating around the locked toilets. Siddharth, a resident of Mehdipatnam, said: “People should stop calling Hyderabad as the best city to live. Talk about a city with a population of one crore not being able to provide a few hundred clean toilets.” Latif Khan, a fruit merchant in Gudimalkapur, said: “There are two defunct public toilets in our colony. They are filled with so much filth and garbage. The stench that emanates from them is also unbearable.”
The public toilets in Vijayanagar Colony even have had some of their doors stolen. According to Vijay Kumar, a resident, the GHMC has not lifted the garbage strewn around the toilets in the last three weeks. Ravi Kumar from Masab Tank claims that the GHMC has brought disrepute to the city. “The toilets in Mehdipatnam are said to be still under construction, but only water and sewage connections are yet to be completed. Will it take six months for extending the connections?’’ he asked.
Ideally, there should be one public toilet for every kilometre stretch of road in the city, as per the norms of the Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO). Unfortunately, though Hyderabad has been termed as one of the best livable cities in the country, it lags behind when it comes to building public toilets for its citizens.
Only 350 public toilets in city
Hyderabad has over 9,000 kilometres of roads. In reality, the city does not have more than 350 public toilets. These toilets were constructed over a year ago. This means that the GHMC has made no effort in the last one year to construct additional toilets. Even those that exist are in abysmal condition. As a result, people shudder to even think of going into them. As per the details, of the 350 toilets in the city, 230 belong to Sulabh/BOT, 97 are prefabricated toilets, a few are Loo Cafes located mostly in HiTec City area and 34 are She Toilets. Only the Sulabh toilets are in working condition.
The male-female ratio for toilet availability should be 1:1 but there are hardly any toilets for women. Even if there are, they are in a deplorable state. Often, women find it uncomfortable to even use them because of unhygienic conditions, insufficient water availability, foul smell, or caretaker being male.
When contacted, officials said that maintenance agencies did not come forward to take up the work, and as a result, the toilets have been languishing. This was on account of the agencies not trusting that the GHMC would pay them in time. ‘This apart, the pandemic has slowed down our efforts to fix on the agencies,” said an official.