Finding a public toilet complex and using one used to be a harrowing experience for the citizens in Vijayawada until a few years ago. Due to the lack of the facility, canal bunds and roadsides in many busy areas turned open urination spots throwing a challenge not only to the civic officials but also to the passersby.
Over the years, with the introduction of Swachh initiatives the nuisance of public urination has come down as many ‘problematic spots’ have been converted into public spaces or restricted areas and toilets provided nearby by the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation. The civic body has put up sign boards at a few locations indicating the direction and distance to the nearest toilet. Also, some of the toilets are registered on Google Maps where people can search and find a nearby facility.
A look at the situation of public toilets in the city ahead of the World Toilet Day observed by the United Nations on November 19, reveals that the number of public toilets and community toilets available in busy areas like Gandhi Nagar, Governorpet and One Town are inadequate for the city which has been named the ‘Cleanest State Capital’ in the Swachh Survekshan 2022 rankings.
As per the Swachh Bharat Mission guidelines, one community toilet seat should be ideally used by not more than 35 persons a day and one public toilet seat by not more than 50 persons.
According to municipal officials, there are a total of 65 toilet complexes — 15 community and 50 public toilets — across the city whose population is over 10 lakh as per the 2011 census. The commercial areas of the city witness lakhs of visitors every day and many use the public toilets. As a result, the stink emanating from the toilets continues to be a major cause for concern for passersby. Also, a majority of the public toilets are usable only by men.
“The civic authorities have successfully controlled public urination here (Ryves Canal bund). But they have set up an open toilet complex which is as good as open urination. Though water is provided through the overhead tank, the toilet placed in the pedestrian path always stinks and causes inconvenience to passersby,” said S. Ramana, a local of Purnanandam Peta near the railway station.
Pink toilets for women
When contacted, VMC’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. P. Ratnavali said that all the public and community toilets in the city were well maintained by the designated staff and agencies. “Our staff, including sanitary inspectors and health officers, also inspect the toilets daily to ensure proper sanitation,” she added.
She said that the civic body was working on plans to set up ‘Pink toilets’ for women and air-conditioned (AC) toilets in the city soon. “There are proposals for the construction of Pink toilets at three locations and AC toilets at two locations in the One Town area which have high floating population,” Dr. Ratnavali said.
The theme of the 2022 Toilet Day is ‘Making the invisible visible’ with focus on the impact of pollution of groundwater due to the spread of human waste into the rivers, lakes and soil.