Stinking urinals ahead of Games: court pulls up MCD

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NEW DELHI - “What do you want to show to the world?” an exasperated Delhi High Court asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) while expressing displeasure over the state of public urinals in the capital ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2010.

A division bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Ajit Bharihoke pulled up the MCD for failing to improve the state of public urinals in the capital despite several directions. It said: “We are heading to host the Commonwealth Games and our sanitation is still not updated. What do you (MCD) want to show to the world?”

The counsel for MCD told the bench earlier this week that they are taking steps to improve the sanitation conditions.

Advocate Ashok Agarwal, counsel in the case, told the bench: “We are preparing ourselves for the Commonwealth Games and it’s horrible that the city’s civic agencies do not even perform their basic duties. It’s a violation of the rights of citizens, especially women, who have no option but to defecate in the open.”

On this the bench said: “No improvement is visible. You (MCD) have not done any work for the community toilets in the past five years. It is shameful for us when we see females going out in the open to ease themselves.”

The court asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to verify and file a status report within six weeks, stating what steps the MCD is following to improve the sanitation conditions in the capital.

The pathetic state of public toilets was highlighted by Shahana Sheikh, a final year student of economics at the Lady Sri Ram (LSR) College, who undertook a tour of slums and the outskirts of Delhi from May to July 2008.

According to Sheikh, the MCD, in its 2007 report claims that there are 3,192 public conveniences in the national capital but she found only 1,534 toilets during her survey.

In her report titled “Public Toilets in Delhi - An Emphasis on the Facilities for Women in Slum Areas”, Sheikh says only 132 urinals are available for women and most of them are in a dilapidated state.

“A man has options but a woman can’t urinate in the open as that is deemed ‘uncultured’. The issue of public toilets affects women the most, especially poor women,” Sheikh had said.

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