- Bengaluru's civic body is aiming to go ODF by 2018
- A recent survey found out that the city is short by nearly 1,000 toilets
- Open defecation is common in slum areas of the city, says BBMP
New Delhi: As Swachh Survekshan 2018, the annual ranking of cities based on cleanliness and sanitation, nears its scheduled date of January 4, 2018, cities are gearing up with range of awareness programmes and announcements to not only ensure better ranking in the upcoming survey, but also to meet the final goal of an open defecation free (ODF) India in 2019. One such announcement came on behalf of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bengaluru’s municipal corporation, which announced that 444 public toilets will be built in the city, effectively getting rid of open defecation in 2018.
Bengaluru’s Municipal Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad appealed to the director of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) to partially sanction funds for 444 public and 79 community toilets across the city. Bengaluru has recently been in news for not only lacking in enough toilets, but also for the city’s ill-maintenance of existing public toilets. A survey conducted by a non-profit organisation in October-November 2017 found out that the nation’s Information Technology capital is short by more than 1,000 toilets. Currently, Bengaluru has 473 public toilets. Many of the toilets built in recent times were found to be dirty and having inadequate water, which rendered them useless.
Some of the toilets in the city have problems and we will fix them by the end of the year. Our plan is to go open defecation free by 2018. For that, more than 400 toilets are planned to be built by next year, said Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, Health and Solid Waste management, BBMP.
Bengaluru can take relief in the fact that 43 of its 198 wards have adequate number of public toilets. The proposal to build 444 toilets by next year will cover the 64 wards which have very low toilet coverage and hence, witness regular instances of open defecation. The civic body has also planned to build the toilets in strategic locations, such as near busy areas, slums and where population concentration is at the higher end, so that more people can use the toilets. The total cost of the project is estimated to be nearly Rs 31 crore and will be shared by the state government and the Swachh Bharat Mission. The BBMP is confident of setting up all the 444 toilets within a month, once they get the funds.
The BBMP is also looking to bring in behavioural change among citizens, especially in areas where open defecation is rampant. Mr Khan said that the municipal corporation will make the new toilets geo-tagged and also employ guards who will be deployed to inspect and maintain the toilets. That way, both the issues of low awareness and ill-maintenance of toilets will be resolved, felt the BBMP joint commissioner.
Bengaluru ranked poorly in Swachh Survekshan 2017, securing a low rank of 210 out of 434 participating cities. The competition for India’s IT capital is much larger this year, as 4,041 cities are expected to participate in the 2018 edition of the Survekshan. The aim to go ODF by 2018 is an ambitious call by BBMP, but it must ensure that the newly built public toilets are accessible by those who need it, as failure to do so will make it an exercise in futility for the municipality.