Let's Talk Guwahati: 80% of Guwahatians feel public toilets are dirty and poorly maintained
GUWAHATI: In tandem with Guwahati's rank in Swachch Survekshan, over 80% population of Guwahati feel that the public toilets of the city are dirty. This was revealed during a month-long survey conducted by G Plus named 'Let's Talk Guwahati' in which 8,707 citizens took part through online and offline medium.
In the first question, ‘How hygienic and well-maintained do you think public toilets are,’ 80.8% of the respondents were of the opinion that the public toilets are unhygienic and poorly-maintained. While 50% out of these 80.8% said that the toilets are dirty, the remaining 30.8% said that they were very dirty. Further, 13.6% responded by saying that the toilets are clean and merely 5.6% responded that they're very clean.
“It feels disgusting to be in a public toilet in most parts of the country. In Guwahati, the scenario is worse. I haven't found any public toilet in our city that does not stink. What I don’t understand is that when the city has developed so much in other aspects, why isn’t there proper toilet facilities, especially for women?” expressed Sneha Jain, a student pursuing higher education in Guwahati.
At a time when the city has been selected to be developed as a Smart City, the result of this year’s Swachch Survekshan shows that Guwahati’s cleanliness ranking has dropped drastically as compared to the past two years.
Swachch Survekshan, the nation-wide cleanliness survey, is conducted by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry in various cities and towns across India. In the year 2016, Guwahati secured the 50th position in the cleanliness category but it dropped to 134th position in 2017 and 207th position in 2018.
There has always been a shortage of public toilets in the city and although the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) has come up with many schemes of installing public toilets there has been very little to show on the ground.
“Public toilets are one area that we’re lagging behind in, but we’re constantly working on it. A lot of projects have been taken up by GMC in the recent years to solve the issue. We are not just coming up with more public toilets for men and women, but also for the disabled,” Commissioner of GMC, Monalisa Goswami had earlier told G Plus.
Earlier, Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), Assam launched a massive campaign titled “Swachh Survekshan Grameen” (SSG 2018) across the state on July 26, 2018. Giving his inauguration speech at the NEDFI Convention Centre, PHE Minister Rihon Daimari had said, “Around 28 lakhs toilets have been constructed in Assam till now and 12 districts have been declared as Open Defecation Free (ODF) in the state.”
Meanwhile, plenty number of respondents opined that there is a lack of public toilets in the city. They further added that this shortage and non-availability of public toilets in the city are causing females to suffer from many diseases.
8% people use Public Toilets in Guwahati
In yet another question asked during the ‘Let’s Talk Guwahati’ survey, the citizens of Guwahati responded to the question “How often have you used public toilets in the past year?” The result pointed out towards something very shocking – over 30% of the people revealed that they didn’t use public toilet even once in the past one year.
Among the respondents 31.6% people said that they never used a public toilet, 37.2% said that they seldom used public toilets, meaning that they have used it less than five times, 23.2% said they've used it more than five times while merely 8% of the total sample size responded that they frequently use public toilets.
Roughly 60 percent of the country’s 1.2 billion people still defecate in the open. And the consequences for women are huge. The situation is worse in Guwahati. Even as the city seems to be flourishing, the general public, especially the female population continue to face problems due to lack of public toilets.
Although the public toilets are a concern for the people as a whole in the city, it is the women who suffer a lot. While the female population of our society continue to face sanitation problems, the concerned officials keep saying that they’re working towards it and there are just enough toilets for women as there are for men. The officials of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) also said that the existing toilets are well maintained although the general public seems to have an altogether different opinion.
Some of the major reasons cited by the respondents for not using public toilets include: public toilets lack proper maintenance, a foul smell prevails in public toilets and that public toilets are breeding ground for bacteria.
“Men do have the urge to use public toilets but the condition of the toilets maintained by our government is such that they force us not to use the same. They’re dirty, unhygienic and filthy to say the least. Further, there is a section of people in our society who do not seem to know the difference between a urinal and a lavatory,” Atiqul Habib, a resident of Hatigaon, Guwahati told G Plus.