KOCHI: It is a bright and sunny day. Vehicles could be seen moving at a steady pace, while the metro train zooms past to the station carrying the office goers. All this a pointer to the fast-paced development that the city is undergoing. But right beside the metro station, another scene unfolds that blights the smart city status which the authorities here are trying to project. The scene - a man urinating near a dump yard at Kaloor junction.
The filthy public toilets in Kaloor bus stand can be a reason why the man had to answer the nature’s call in full public view. Lakshmi R, who lives in Vyttila and commutes daily to Kaloor, said public urinating has become a usual thing today. “It is pathetic! Even as the city is developing rapidly, such sights put a black mark on its name,” she said. The authorities need to take steps to put a stop to such practices, she adds. “The civic body must initiate steps to build more public toilets and also renovate the existing ones. Provision should also be made to properly maintain them,” she said.
V K Minimol, Chairperson of Health Standing Committee said, when the present council came into power, the condition of all the toilets was extremely poor. According to Minimol, the civic team concentrates only on renovating and reconstructing the existing toilets. “We are not building new ones. The job of maintaining the toilets is given to private parties after floating tenders. The corporation is unaware of whether the maintenance happens or not,” she added.
Hence, in order to put an end to this, the corporation will be launching a system which will help it get a feedback on the services provided at the public toilet, said Minimol. “Boards with ‘good’ and bad’ signs will be placed at the comfort stations. People who use the facility can mark the signs to give a feedback,” she said. This will enable the corporation to get an idea whether the toilets are being maintained properly or not she added.
However, the city-zens complain there are not sufficient public toilets in the city. Rajan Nair, a retired government officer who lives in Kadavanathara, said, “Toilets are seen only at tourists spots like Fort Kochi or Mattancherry.” “The lack of maintenance is another major issue,” he added. The areas which bear the brunt of public urination the most are those near the Vyttila Mobility hub, Railway Station and bus stands.
George Mathew, who owns a shop near Vyttila Hub, said the absence of a penalty for public urination encourages people to engage in such unhygienic act. “In foreign countries, you get slapped with a fine for such acts. So, why can’t such a system be implemented here. I have been witnessing Kochi’s development for the past 20 years. However, real progress will happen only when such shameful sights disappear from the city,” he said.The city which ranked 4th in the Swachch Bharat Mission survey in 2015 has dropped down to 271th in 2017.
The stinkiest spots
The areas which bear the brunt of public urination the most are those near - the Vyttila Mobility hub Railway Stations, Kaloor private bus stand and KSRTC bus station