The ‘upper class’ waiting room at Pune railway station, for passengers of air-conditioned compartments, has quite a few facilities. It has comfortable seats, a television to entertain the passengers and another to inform them about the train schedule. It has artistic interiors and functional air-conditioners. But it does not have a separate washroom for women. Men and women have to share the bathroom in this otherwise swanky waiting room.
When woman passengers have to use the bathroom, they often find a man using the urinal block, which they have to pass to reach the toilet. The washroom has three urinal blocks, two lavatories and two wash basins. The A/C, TV and new chairs all became a part of the waiting room in 2015, when it was refurbished. While the administration didn’t construct separate toilets for women, it is now creating a partition in the existing one.
“How can I go to that bathroom? I walked to the waiting room for general passengers and used the washroom there. Everything is fine here but they ought to do something about this,” said Vaishali Rathi, a passenger who was waiting for the Jhelum Express.
Another passenger, Tulsidas Diwani, said, “They should know that most women wouldn’t use such a toilet. They should build a separate washroom for women”. The railway administration admitted that there was certainly a need for a separate washroom for women at the waiting room.
“We will check the feasibility and see how it can be done at the soonest… whether separate toilets have to be constructed or a partition has to be set up. A decision will be taken after checking the feasibility,” said Manoj Jhanvar, Public Relations Officer, Pune Division.
Harsha Shah of the Railway Pravasi Group claimed that the situation was due to “bad planning on part of the Pune Division”. “There’s enough space to accommodate separate washrooms for men and women. They spent lakhs in 2015 to renovate the waiting room but didn’t’ think of addressing such a basic issue,” said Shah.