Pune, March 3, 2012: The 'Occupy Men's Toilet' campaign started by women in China to protest against the lack of sanitation facilities for them is beginning to grip the imagination of women in the city.
Activists, working women and college students are now saying that if the 78 newly elected women representatives in the civic house do nothing on the issue, they will launch a similar drive in the city.
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been allocating money for women's toilets since 2009 and it even decided to build toilets under the JNNURM. Toilet projects were also mooted on a buy, own and transfer (BOT) basis. But precious little has come of it, and three years on none of the projects have progressed beyond the drawing board.
"In 2009, Rs 60 lakh was allocated for public toilets and this was increased to Rs 1 crore in 2010. It is not the funds but lack of political will that is responsible for the lack of toilets in the city," said RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar.
The PMC decided that public toilets would be built on BOT basis. "The standing committee pulled back its proposal of building fibre public toilets since the material is not conducive to our health," Kumbhar said. According to the World Health Organisation, there should be one public toilet for every 100 people. In the city, there is one public toilet for 9,100 people.
Activist Mukta Manohar said it was unfortunate that women had to fight for these basic amenities. "When thousands of people hit the streets in protest against such apathy, the administration will have no option but to take notice," Manohar said. She also said that the upcoming Women's Day was just the right occasion to conduct such protests.
Health activist Chetan Gandhi, who has been raising the issue of separate public toilets for women for the past few years, said the PMC had only reserved 63 blocks for public toilets and that too on a temporary basis. Read More