CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj comments in a news article published in The Times of India. He comments “We had started a study regarding the status and requirement of public toilets in the city three years ago. Then, it was found that the public toilets at bus and railway stations are ill-maintained. The operator gets around Rs 7,000 a day from each toilet complex. The only spending is the labour charges for deploying a person to collect the fee. They don’t spend even a single pie for cleaning toilets,”

The city is witnessing big strides on the development front. But the stinking reality is that Kochi lacks adequate number of well-maintained public toilets, making the few existing ones unusable.
Around four years ago, Greater Cochin Development Authority had constructed two toilet complexes on the premises of Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. But they have been shut for the past one year. People who come to various offices and facilities in and around the stadium have been facing difficulties due to the inaccessibility. “We had closed the toilet complexessoon after the outbreak of Covid-19. We would be taking measures to reopen hem,” GCDA chairman V Salim said.
Meanwhile, there are no public toilets at many busy junctions in the city. “While junctions like Vyttila, Kacherippady and Palarivattom don’t have public toilets, the one at Subhash Park is accessible for public only when the park opens,” said T N Prathapan, an RTI activist who has lodged a complaint demanding more public toilets. “The Rs.48 lakh-worth ‘Take A Break’ public toilet complex constructed by tourism department at Boat Jetty too remains inaccessible. The Kanayanoor taluk office premises from where many courts and other institutions like treasury operate also doesn’t have a public toilet. When I took it up with the officials in the taluk office, they said Suchitwa Mission has been entrusted with construction of a toilet complex. Even after one-and-a-half years, nothing materialized,” Prathapan said.

Meanwhile, mayor Anil Kumar said corporation authorities will give top priority to construction and maintenance of public toilets in the city. “After studying a few models which are proven to be successful, we will construct toilets in different parts of the city and make arrangements for proper maintenance of them,” he said.

According to experts, there should be a dedicated agency for proper upkeep of toilets being constructed by government as well as private firms. “We had started a study regarding the status and requirement of public toilets in the city three years ago. Then, it was found that the public toilets at bus and railway stations are ill-maintained. The operator gets around Rs 7,000 a day from each toilet complex. The only spending is the labour charges for deploying a person to collect the fee. They don’t spend even a single pie for cleaning toilets,” said Dhanuraj, chairman , centre for public policy research, an NGO.

Better Kochi Response Group (BKRG) has been maintaining a couple of toilet complexes, including the one near Ernakulam civil station. “We have opened one near shipyard and will be opening another one at Jos junction and Vasco Square soon. We entrust the maintenance of the toilets with CREDAI. They maintain the toilets properly,” said BKRG president S Gopakumar.

No lessons learned

Kochi city which ranked fourth in Swachh Survekshan in 2015 had slipped to 276th position in 2017. One of the reasons for this steep fall was lack of adequate public toilets. It been four years and authorities have failed miserably in ensuring the same.

As per Swachh Mission norms, the city required at least 274 public toilets in 2017. Given the increase in population and commuters in the past four years, the number may go up further. Still, the city has only a little more than a dozen public toilets.

This news article was published in The Times of India on February 17, 2021. click here to read

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