Bhubaneswar: With the city witnessing rapid urbanisation and booming population, experts have pitched for a more robust sanitation systems that will help not only enhance public hygiene but also improve the ranking of the Capital city in Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).
Until October, Odisha was one of the worst performing states in construction of individual household latrines under the SBM. However, after falling behind many deadlines, the state finally achieved 100 per cent open defecation free (ODF) status with a total of 66,83,148 toilets.
With a whopping 9 lakh (as per the last census) population in the City, rapid urbanisation has been witnessed during the last decade. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has played a significant role in achieving the ODF status for the state.
The BMC, under ‘Project Samman’, has seen 23.5 per cent increase in construction of toilets since 2018. As per the reports, while community and public toilets under the BMC jointly stood as 1,358 in 2018, it rose to 1,678 in 2019. However, individual studies show that these toilets are least preferred by the denizens and are far less in number as per the City’s demand.
“We did an individual survey around 21 public toilets and interviewed about 327 people seeking their opinion on the City’s toilets. It was interesting to find that 87 per cent of people felt that there weren’t enough toilets in and around the city. Moreover, on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 being the worst) most of them gave a rating of 4 to the city toilets,” stated Piyush Ranjan Rout, an urban planner here.
Furthermore, with the Capital city witnessing the Hockey World Cup last year, BMC invested heavily in construction of e-toilets. With an investment of `5.76 crore for the project, the BMC identified 30 locations across the city for installation of about 60 of these toilets. However, blame it on people’s lack of awareness or civic authority’s poor management that only 18 out of the 60 have become operational so far.
Owing to these reasons, the city has seen an increased number of cases of open defecation. Although BMC has recently decided to impose `200 and `150 as penalty for defecating and urinating in open space respectively, local residents however demanded that the authority needs to set up adequate public toilets in the city before imposing penalty.
Responding to this, Suvendu Sahu, Deputy Commissioner, Sanitation said, “We are giving our best to make this city an open defecation free place. However, people need to develop a culture of using the public toilet. We already have 193 toilets and 50,000 to 1 lakh people benefit from the initiative. Until 2018, we had issued 20,218 work orders for construction of individual household latrines of which 12,435 beneficiaries have already constructed the toilets at their homes. Presently, we are undertaking the construction of 5,000 more household toilets.”