‘More are coming under Swachh Bharat Mission’
‘People don’t respect development, steal from public conveniences’
Srinagar: As the government seems to be upbeat about making Srinagar a smart city (at least on paper), the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) claims to have constructed ninety-eight public conveniences in the summer capital.
Are they all functional?
According to SMC among them, fifteen are new and have been recently constructed, sixty-one of them are old, fifteen are in need of reconstruction, two need to be fully repaired and the last one in the list has been demolished.
With uncertainty in these SMC made ninety-eight public and community toilets the ones (eighty in number) being constructed under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), only two have come up so far.
“We have to construct eighty public and community toilets under SBM and have made two toilets so far and the rest are expected to be built by the end of October,” says Lalit Wali, PRO, Srinagar Municipal Corporation.
The Srinagar Municipal Corporation in association with Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) is working together under this initiative, in which toilets will be constructed in different places and communities.
“Already people from Masjids, schools and colleges are asking to make toilets for them in their respective places and we are looking forward to do that,” Lalit adds.
Pertinently the state had sanctioned Rs. 10.9 crore for the 2014-2015 under this mission that was launched in October 2014. Ironically, no progress was made on the up-gradation of existing toilet blocks.
“We exactly have the numbers of toilets that we claim but I also admit the ones among them which have been constructed years ago don’t have the system required today in a toilet,” admitted Chief Sanitation Officer of SMC, Akbar Sofi.
Despite so many ‘available’ toilets, people every now and then face inconvenience in finding a proper public toilet.
Afreena, a student of Women’s College said “Women, in particular, are suffering because of the lack of this necessity in our city. Toilets are as essential as food for humans. Sadly, no government has ever paid any attention towards this basic need.”
With the newly made public conveniences in the heart of the city, Lal Chowk, people do face less inconvenience however that doesn’t suffice the need of public toilets for around seventeen Lakh people of the city.
While adding more Afreena said, “Public toilets should be given more importance especially in case of women so that they don’t have to face embarrassment.”
Moreover, girls of the Women’s College say that they have approached the authorities more than a dozen times, however no one ever paid heed to their grievances.
“No one is paying any heed to such a huge issue. It’s a matter of larger concern as it’s one of the pillars which would make Srinagar a smart city that is claimed in every big hoarding displayed at every signal in the city,” said Nazia, who is pursuing her Bachelors in science at Women’s College M.A Road.
Sofi, the Sanitation Officer however, blames the city people of indisciplined, uncivilized and accuses them for not keeping toilets clean.
“People here don’t take development in a positive way. The last time I visited Hazratbal, people there had broken aluminum doors, forget the condition of the doors made from wood” he adds.
Sofi also alleged people of stealing things from the conveniences made for them.
“They don’t realize that they are harming and causing problems for themselves,” Sofi pointed out.
“We go for inspections late in the evening and check these newly made toilets for ourselves,” Sofi informed.