The Calcutta High Court has directed the Municipal Corporation of Kolkata to prepare a clear policy for construction of public toilets in the city.
The Division Bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee has passed this order while hearing a Writ Petition filed against the construction of a pay-and-use toilet being set up in a children’s park.
The Court noted, ”There is no doubt that there is a crying need for toilets to be constructed, both for visitors to parks and others, including people who live on the streets. In a large metropolis like this city, with its floating population of outsiders and a large number of pavement dwellers, there should be many more toilets than now available. Even the bustees and other tenements where the low income groups squeeze in, do not have adequate toilets and in such clusters more than 50 to 100 persons, at places, share one toilet.”
“Experiments at toilets being set up in some parks have sometimes resulted in the park itself becoming a toilet for the locals who do not have access to toilet facilities to descend thereon. It is possible, if space is a constraint, that small areas at the outer edges of a park be carved out for construction of a toilet; but there must be a clear policy as to whether that toilet is for those who use the park or for all and sundry in the locality,” observed the Bench.
The court, therefore, asked the Commissioner of Kolkata Municipal Corporation to consult experts and formulate a scheme for construction of public toilets and the Court has stayed further construction of the toilet in the relevant park.
In its order, the court held that the toilets have to be kept clean and hygienic. A degree of awareness has to be inculcated and local residents, particularly from low income groups, may be engaged for the maintenance and upkeep of toilets with regular monitoring by Corporation officials. “Corporate houses may be tapped for CSR spending on such account and NGOs also involved.”
“All metropolitan cities and towns in this country lack adequate public toilets and most do not possess any where a sense of hygiene is maintained. With the proposed scheme, Kolkata may show the way for the rest of the country,” the order reads.