The South Delhi Municipal Corporation recently came up with a solution for hygienic public toilets in the city. They took the initiative to open all toilets in hotels and restaurants for general public to use.
“The suggestion came to us from the office of the Lieutenant Governor and we consulted many people, including owners of restaurants and hotels, before we decided to implement the decision from April 1. The main aim is to add to the facilities that are currently in use, especially for women,” SDMC spokesperson, Mukesh Yadav told The Indian Express.
The decision has been taken keeping women in mind since they are the ones who have to suffer the most because public toilets are a scarcity in Delhi. However, hotels might start charging the public for using their toilets. There are around 1,100 public toilets in the vicinity that comes under SDMC but only 140 are for women.
“The corporation issues health trade licences to restaurants and hotels, and starting April 1, the condition that the toilets remain open to the public, even if for a charge not exceeding Rs 5, will be added to these licence agreements. It is not an abdication of our responsibility to provide these services, only an addition to our ongoing efforts,” Yadav added.
With hotel toilets coming under this scheme, it will increase the numbers by 3,500 toilets and these toilets will minimize safety concerns as well, said Yadav. In a meeting with the SDMC and the restaurateurs, there were some parties who rejected the idea but the majority everyone agreed.
“This was not a one-sided decision and all stakeholders were involved. If someone still has problems, we will sit together and sort it out. The public has appreciated the decision a lot,” Yadav said.
There are a plethora of challenges that Delhi women face with not having enough hygienic toilets at their disposal. While the SDMC has taken this step, other parts of Delhi are yet to do something about this problem that is mostly faced by women who are especially working as saleswomen in markets like Sarojini Nagar, Rajouri Garden etc as they have to use public toilets every day.
Lauding SDMC’s step, 23-year-old Apeksha Sharma of Faridabad, says, “It will be such a boon if it becomes a reality. I remember not drinking enough water while on my shopping trips to Lajpat Nagar so I don’t feel like peeing at all the whole day.”
Another girl studying in a South Delhi college of Delhi University, Suchitra Agnihotri, pointed out, “Even if it does look like a great idea, it is not going to change much of the scenario as hotels have more often than not let us enter to pee. In fact, now that I get to know, they might charge us like regular public toilets, which is so not great.”
While it is true that restaurants don’t generally turn down people who come to use the restroom, Akriti Nagpal, who works as an HR professional in South Extension market, is of the opinion that SDMC should focus on building safe toilets for women and that if they cannot do that, then this does not help much. “We know how to pee safely and public toilets are so not about safety,” she says.