The three-pronged strategy of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to provide sanitation facilities had been winning praises from the public. It has now got a pat on the back from the Bombay High Court.
The model, as per joint municipal commissioner Suresh Jagtap of PMC, involves public participation at various levels and has emphasis on getting the design of toilets right. Not resting on its laurels, the civic body is planning to install eco-friendly mobile toilets.
Last week, the High Court appreciated efforts of PMC to address shortage of public toilets. In their observations, the justices pointed out that PMC’s model can serve as a template for other civic bodies in Maharashtra in their efforts.
Jagtap said that in 2011 Milun Saryajani, a magazine, filed a case in Bombay High Court complaining about lack of public toilets especially toilets for women in the city. Following the case the civic body conducted surveys that showed lack of proper toilets was a case of concern for Pune. “Other than toilets in public places, there was a demand for mobile toilets in case of large public gatherings,” he said.
The three-pronged approach adopted by PMC to solve the problem involved construction of toilets, ensuring proper maintenance and increasing participation of citizen through awareness. “We started by identifying places where toilets were lacking and started issuing work orders for construction of the same. Also a policy decision was taken to demarcate land in the development plan for toilets,” he said.
During the planning process, attention was paid to several aspects to make the toilet blocks a designing success.
Ventilation, signage lights, and proper supply of water were borne in mind while designing the toilets.. “We took care of signage especially in case of women’s toilets so that people could identify the toilets. In the women’s toilets, during the design, we ensured hooks or small platforms were incorporated so women could hang their handbags,” he said.
A special maintenance schedule was drawn up for toilets in shifts to ensure they remain clean and usable. “Mechanical cleaners are employed twice a day to see toilets remain clean throughout the day,” he said.
Another initiative of the local body to ensure maintenance was the Community Led Toilet Sanitation. Making local residents as Swachata Mitras helped in increasing public participation and involvement of the community. Supervision as well as maintenance of toilets was done by ward level committees which included ward officers, ward medical officers, representatives of NGOs and other officers. The committees held regular meetings and looked into complaints. Also around 45 per cent of toilets had caretakers to keep an eye on regular maintenance.
PMC is planning to install eco-friendly mobile toilets, with a pilot project. “We floated a tender of Rs 25 lakh for the toilets and the work will start soon,” he said.