People who rush past a wall of a farmers’ market in Hyderabad hold their breaths to avoiding inhaling the foul smell of urine. But the stench is not because of the public toilet there, it’s instead from near the wall that leads up to it.
A large portion of the wall that surrounds the Rythu Bazaar in Mehdipatnam has been painted with religious symbols, with one clear message - do not urinate here. At the end of the wall, one comes face to face with the public toilet that is never used.
But it seems nothing, not even religious symbols can deter people.
"We have tried everything over the past two months. We thought people won’t urinate or spit if religious symbols are painted. I personally spent some money from my pocket and wired the edge of the wall and repainted it once. Even that didn't deter people," says Ranjit Singh, who manages the public toilet which is run by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corportion.
According to him, it’s mostly the hawkers that urinate on the wall. Despite the public toilet charging a minimal amount of Rs 2, people are reluctant to use it. The message on the wall also adds that the GHMC will impose a fine of Rs 500 but it is evident that people do not bother.
The wall was repainted last month, after a visit by a GHMC inspector, who noticed the condition and foul smell coming from the area.
According to a report in the Deccan Chronicle, a similar activity was taken up a couple of months ago, on another portion of a wall in Mehdipatnam, but spitting hasn’t stopped on these walls, neither has littering or urination.
"Even if they use the public toilet ten times a day, it will not put them back by more than Rs 20. I try to keep it as neat as possible and persuade all the hawkers and customers to keep the area clean but they just don't listen," Ranjit adds.