By Sherfun Nisa
Srinagar: Qurat-ul-Ain was visiting Srinagar along with her friends for her wedding shopping. They arrived in the commercial hub Lal Chowk in early morning and began to shop. After a few hours, one of the friends needed to go to a washroom, and friends started looking for a public toilet for women.
“We spent half the day in shopping and rest in locating the loo. Most of our time was wasted in finding a public convenience. We were not able to complete our shopping and it got delayed to next day,” said Qurat.
Despite being the commercial hub of Srinagar Lal Chowk, has few usable public toilets for women.
“There is one public convenience for women but I would not prefer that because of its location. It is located at the centre of Regal Chowk and lacks privacy,” said Fatima, a student at Women’s college.
A few years back, it was even difficult to find a usable toilet for men in the city. While things have slightly improved, it is still difficult to find a public toilet for women, even in the busy commercial centres frequented by women.
Bhat Humaira, am MBBS student at SKIMS, said, that the problem becomes grave for women who suffer from diabetes or have any other health problems.
“People suffering diabetes have to visit washrooms frequently thus are the worst sufferers of this inconvenience. Though government has taken initiatives but still there is shortage of civic facilities in the city,” Bhat said.
According to a survey of Demographics and Clinical Characteristics of Diabetes Mellitus by International Journal of Paediatrics, diabetes is on rise in Kashmir particularly among youth, with a major percentage among femawle folk.
While the Government of India has embarked on an ambitious Swacchh Bharat Mission across the campaign seems to have failed to make an impact in Srinagar, given the absence of public lavatories in most of the frequented places in the city.
“Absence of the public lavatories at Jahangir Chowk, Gonikhan, Lal Chowk is a blot on the government authorities tasked with the job. The scenario has seen a reverse trend in our state as such facilities previously existed,” said Naiema Gull, a housewife.
People mostly women are put to great inconvenience and people say authorities have grown blind to their plight.
“I want to point out here that the funds available under Swach Bharat Mission should be used to build public lavatories in cities, towns and villages of our state considering the fact that the people in our state are comparatively more conscious of the need to have toilets in their homes.” Naiema further added.
Out of 75 public toilets in Srinagar only 11 are for females. Besides the small ratio the location of toilets for women is also a matter of concern.
“There should be separate lavatories for females but the unavailability of land is one of the big constraints. We have received applications from general public but unless land is not provided we cannot do anything,” said Ghulam Rasool Dar, Sanitation Officer (Central).