New Delhi: Stinking urinals, no loos for women or people defecating in the open. This image of the national capital with not enough toilets and no strict action against people who commit `public nuisances` needs to change, especially ahead of the Commonwealth Games, say experts.
With at least a hundred thousand visitors expected in the city during the Games in October, Delhiites need to change their sanitation habits and the government needs to
enforce harsher punitive action against violators, says the founder of well-known sanitation NGO.
"Adopt punitive measures against those who inspite of existence of good facilities resort to the practise of committing public nuisance against walls and outside designated places," says Bindeshwar Pathak, Sulabh International.
"Imposing heavy fines on people creating a public nuisance is nothing new. It was done during the historical times of Chandra Gupta Maurya and Kautilya. Take the case of
Singapore known for its meticulous cleanliness with fines upto 500 Singapore dollar for violators. The Delhi government also needs to think about such a policy as our image is at stake during the CWG," he told a news agency.
Acknowledging a shortage of public rest rooms in the city, Pathak, who has set up a toilet museum in the country says it is no excuse to dirty clean places.
"Public toilets should be constructed within a gap of one kilometre each to ensure ready access to those in need. Delhi requires more than 10,000 public toilets and two lakh urinals, the number however could increase," says Pathak.
Presently the New Delhi Municipal corporation (NDMC) has total of 194 public toilets, 94 south of Rajghat and 100 on north of it in its jurisdiction.
The other civic agency in the capital the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) accepts a shortfall of toilets.
"Yes, we do have shortage of public toilets in Delhi. The MCD had built around 2500 but we are planning to bring in 1000 waterless urinals," says MCD spokesperson, Deep Mathur.
The MCD had recently floated tenders for construction of 216 toilets in market areas, in different parts of the city to come up before the CWG. The proposed posh public toilet
blocks which includes other amenities like coffee shops, flower shops and fast-food joints.
However, leader of Opposition in MCD, JK Sharma says, "There is little chance these posh loos would be completed in time before the Games. Work goes on at a slow pace, they have not even repaired the old broken toilets. We need more clean toilets for CWG."
JK Sharma says, "The funds from Japanese government have been used to construct around 1900 public toilets in Delhi. Out of them, 1278 are yet to be completed as recorded by a survey some time ago. Women face a hard time finding usable toilets."
MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur says, under a special drive which started in the city on July 1 and would continue till July 15, violators would be fined upto Rs 500.
"We are running special drive to punish the violators. There is maximum fine upto Rs 500, but in our draft proposal, we have recommended an increase it with provision of more fine for habitual offenders," he says.
"We are following a two-pronged approach. On one hand, we educate people through a multi-media campaign and on the other, they will be fined for urinating outside public
toilets," says the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Sulabh International has included Delhi as one of the various cities in 50 developing countries that will host its sanitation programme.
"The plan is to launch sanitation programmes in 10 countries each year, so that over a period of 5 years a total of 50 countries are covered. The toilets of Sulabh design
would be constructed as demonstration toilets to help the country to proceed further adopting technologies involved," says Pathak.
He says his technology used in public toilets is cheap and effective.
"I have developed two technologies, one for individual houses and the other for public places. Both require minimum manual effort or physical labour to keep them clean. These
technologies are affordable, appropriate, indigenous and culturally acceptable compared to the sewer and septic tank systems" he says.