Construction ban blocks SMC from providing public toilets on busy Boulevard

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MADHIYA NABI

Srinagar: The ban on construction around Srinagar’s bustling Boulevard has become the main obstruction for the construction of public toilets along the road. As a result, the long stretch along the Dal Lake towards the Mughal-era Nishat Garden, usually swarming with tourists and locals, has a single toilet facility.
Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), which has been constructing the city’s toilet facilities and is responsible for their upkeep, said they have set a target of constructing 250 toilets in the city. Of this, 235 have been constructed, SMC Commissioner Riyaz Ahmad Wani told Kashmir Reader.
According to him, the lack of toilets around one of Srinagar’s busiest tourist attractions is because of the High Court ban on constructions.
“Construction around the Dal Lake is taken care of by Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) but is strictly prohibited there,” he said.
“We have a plan of installing bio-toilets and mobile toilets, but that will take time. For that as well, we need proper sanction from the concerned department,” Wani said.
Director Tourism department Mehmood Shah admitted the need for constructing toilets around Dal, saying, “We have already conveyed it to the SMC.”
“They (the SMC) have positively paid heed to our request as public toilet construction is going on around the Shankaracharya temple,” he added. Scores of devotees, travellers as well as locals, visit the temple on a hillock in Srinagar round the year.
On the other hand, LAWDA vice-chairman Dr Hafiz Shah too admitted the need for establishing toilet facilities around the tourist hub but pointed to the High Court ban order on concrete constructions within 200 metres of the lake’s periphery.
“We do understand and appreciate the fact that there is a need for public toilets in the place, but it will not happen in one go. Let the concerned department come on April 26 in the court (hearing) and put their valid points. “Let the honorable court take the decision. But as far as the installation of toilets is concerned, we only want bio-toilets to be installed there that would cause no harm to the lake,” he added.
According to the SMC, there should be a public toilet after every half a kilometre in the city, so people don’t have to face inconvenience. Lack of toilets, especially around commercial markets, is a major complaint among visitors, especially women.