The lost battle

Capstone

Due to the lack of public washrooms, there are many who have no option but to use the open fields for defecation, where they have to battle diseases and inferior looks from people.

There are people who are still suffering due to the lack of toilets

The government of India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launched the Swachh Bharat Mission, to eliminate open defecation. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission 10 crore toilets were to be constructed in rural India. However, over 34.4 crore people do not have access to proper toilets in the country.

Rubina Sheikh, a resident of Ejipura slyum, Bangalore have been reeling under the problems caused due to the lack of proper washrooms. She said, “it is very difficult to take bath, very difficult to use the washrooms also. When it rains, our difficulties become even more as the water comes inside our home.”

The slum only has few washrooms; hence it becomes very crowded. Often, people have to use the open grounds for defecating because the washrooms are filled.

“When we come for using the washroom, the men peek and see. That time I feel very uncomfortable. Still, we come here because there is no other option. If the work is done, then okay, otherwise we somehow run away”, added Rubina.  

Haseena Bilal, another resident of Ejipura slum says that things get more difficult for her when she is menstruating. “There is no proper space and no water, somehow I manage to wash during those days.”

In the name if washrooms, they have bamboos with discarded pieces of cloth and tarpoline tied around them. If for using those, the people residing here have to walk miles. Women generally do not go after the dark as they are scared. The residents also said that there are no lights in the makeshift washrooms, they have to take their own torch and go. The kids always go with their mother as they are scared to go alone.

“When we come for using the washroom, the men peek and see. That time I feel very uncomfortable. Still, we come here because there is no other option. If the work is done, then okay, otherwise we somehow run away”

“There have been times when kids have fallen into the ditch which is right below these washrooms”, said Runa Laila, another resident of the slum.

The slum dwellers do not have access to water supply either. They have to depend on water tankers which comes two to three times in one month. The people earn eight thousand rupees, majority of which is spent in electricity, food and water. After paying all the bills, they are not left with enough money to build washrooms in their houses. The lack of space inside their house is another factor.

The people say before the lockdown, officials from Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) contractors came and took print outs of their Aadhar card. They said it was done to build washrooms around the area. However, months passed, no washroom was built. Neither the people were given any money.

Reports say, in Bangalore only 23% of the slums are registered with the government.

Out of these registered slums, almost 37,000 people do not have access to toilets.

BBMP officials have received as many as 4470 applications for building toilets. Out of which they approved 3131 and constructed 2643 toilets. They say some of the applicants do not have documents like Aadhar card and proper bank accounts. Hence, their applications are not approved.

According to a survey by Janaagraha, there are 462 public toilets in the city. Out of which 54 are not functioning. The remaining are unhygienic and lack basic amenities like water and soap. BBMP says that they have funds and are focusing on bus stands and other places where they can construct toilets.

According to a survey by Janaagraha, there are 462 public toilets in the city. Out of which 54 are not functioning. The remaining are unhygienic and lack basic amenities like water and soap. BBMP says that they have funds and are focusing on bus stands and other places where they can construct toilets.

Recently they came up with their annual budget of Rs 10,478 crore out of which, they will use 46 percent for public toilets.

To replace unhygienic public toilets and curtail the problem of open defecation, specially i8n slum areas, with shortage of water and lack of space, E-toilets can be seen as a possible solution.

Srija Santhosh, head of sustainability, Eram Scientific Solutions, a company manufacturing E-toilets, said, “one of the greatest advantages of E-toilets is that it is a pre-modular structure, which means you just have to bring it to the location and arrange it and then people can use it. Also, it does not take much space, just 30 square feet, hence it can easily be adjusted in the slum areas. The water wastage in E-toilets is also less. The flush uses calculated amount of water. It uses just the minimal amount of water which is required to wash away the urine or faecal matter. Even electricity is conserved. only when the door is open for usage, only then the light and exhaust fan will work. Hence conservation of water and energy is the focus point in E-toilets.”

There are many women like Rubina and Haseena who eagerly wait for public washrooms, so that their daily woes of defecating in the open while battling various diseases and inferior looks from the people ends for good.

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