The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) inaugurated an air conditioned public toilet on Sunday near Avenue Road in Bengaluru.
With the city’s civic activists constantly pointing to the lack of public toilets, this seems like a good move on the face of it.
However, there is another public toilet located near Mysore Bank Circle, which marks the beginning of Avenue Road, from where the foul stench of urine emanates.
Broken commodes and grease-filled wash basins have made the vendors in the area, who use these public toilets regularly, apprehensive about the condition of the new air-conditioned toilet, a few months down the line.
“This is a new toilet and everyone is going to use it because it will be clean initially. Two or three months down the line, it is also going to fall in line with the other toilets and become an ill-maintained one. At least we will be able to use clean toilets for a few months before it deteriorates,” said Roshaiah, a fruit vendor on Avenue Road.
Fifty-seven-year-old Anuradhamma, who sells greens in the area, has her stall set up just a few meters from the older toilet near Mysore Bank Circle.
“I have been selling vegetables in this area for over six years now. A lot of women do not use the foul-smelling toilet, at least in comparison with the number of men who use it. The floor is always dirty and some of the commodes are broken. Sometimes there is no water. I would not be surprised if someone steals the AC. But the BBMP will not bother as once the toilet is built they consider their job done,” she added.
Vikram Purohith, a 42-year-old second hand book vendor on Avenue Road said that sometimes he visits a hotel and buys a cup of coffee just so he can use the washroom there instead of using the public toilet.
Vikarm said that despite the existence of two older toilets near Avenue Road, he has witnessed many people urinating in public.
“These are pay-and-use toilets. We have told the people who maintain the toilets several times about how bad the condition is but no one cares. Who will want to pay and use a bad toilet? I hope that they maintain the new toilet well,” Vikram said.
The city has only 650 public toilets and private agencies are in charge of the maintenance for a minimum of 15 years, according to MS Palaksha, Assistant Executive Engineer, in charge of public toilets in the area.
“A contractor named Chennakeshava is in charge of the new toilet. BBMP only allots the land for the toilets and private individuals have to finance the construction and maintenance of the toilets. These contractors take money for the maintenance. But I will personally go and inspect the toilet near Mysore Bank Circle and see what needs to be changed,” Palaksha said.