The Right to Pee

Last Updated: Jun 17, 2013, 14:20 PM IST

Pooja Bhula

The Right to Pee is not just a right, but a women`s network too, reports Pooja Bhula.

The Right to Pee network was launched when 35 NGOs came together on May 3, 2011 to voice women’s right to clean, safe and free public urinals in Mumbai. The idea being that in a city which has 5,74,1632 women there are no public urinals for them and even the number of toilets is far less in comparison men. From the beginning of the campaign the network has been creating awareness about the health problems that result from lack or urinals and adequate number of toilets. Some examples they have given are saturation of urine and urinary tract infections caused by long hours of wait before relieving the bladder or by reducing water consumption so to reduce the urge to pee.

In its strategy meeting on Saturday the group decided to ensure that the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) implements the construction of 25 public urinals for women by December 2013. This was a follow up to the campaign which began on January 24, 2013 , when through an MCGM circular Rs. 75 lakh was earmarked for construction of public urinals and toilets in the city’s crowded places. The allocation is for the period 2013-14. The circular asked its various departments for a plan to be submitted in 15 days mentioning places where it can be constructed and organizations that can carry out the necessary work. Even after 5 months no proposal has been submitted by the MCGM.

As a result of the campaign, on Special Duty Officer of MCGM, Subhash Dalvi, said at the meeting, “BMC is supportive of the campaign and plans to construct 25 new urinals for women.” However, the group feels that except for the announcement, nothing has been firmly decided in terms of identifying locations and implementing urinals.

Dalvi added, “Permanent structures can be created in some locations, but temporary ones will be required in others. While it is possible to give contracts for maintenance of permanent ones, how will we do it for temporary ones if urinals have to be free to the public? We are still trying to find a solution for it.”

But the Right to Pee network plans to ensure that the promise of 25 new urinals and toilets is kept. Economist and professor, Vibhuti Patel said, “Our team will map and propose locations for construction of these urinals and we want to ensure that all 25 are built by December 2013.”

The meeting was held at Marathi Patrakar Sangh, besides Vibhuti Patel other speakers included Researcher on Urban and Women’s issues Sulakshana Mahajan, Associate Professor of KEM Dr. Kamakshi Bhate and education and social activist, Farida Lambay. They are also playing advisory roles to give the campaign strength, structure and direction.

In the coming days, the Network also plans to collect information on alternative and innovative types of urinal and toilet across the world to ensure economy, eco friendliness and sustainability and practical solutions for areas in the city which need urinals and toilets but may not have enough space.