Simple and basic but of vital importance are public toilets, which are as critical as any large infrastructure project to make cities liveable. The health of a city is inextricably linked to its toilets and it is imperative to provide them in sufficient number, the Bench said.
The Bombay High Court has issued detailed guidelines on the issue of setting up in setting up toilet facilities for `women walking on the streets’. Division bench of Justices A.S. Oka and Revati Mohite Dere said that Public health is of paramount importance and that it is the duty of the State and the Corporations to ensure that public latrines, urinals and similar conveniences are constructed, maintained and kept in a hygienic condition.
Niramay Public Charitable Trust, Milun Suryajani (a media organisation), and Smt. Vidya Bal, social activist had raised the issue of lack of toilet facilities for women through a Public Interest Litigation. They said that there are approximately 17 lakh women residing in the Pune Municipal Corporation area and for 17 Lakh women, there are only 180 urinals. They also submitted before the Court that there was no bonafide effort on the part of the Pune Municipal Corporation to discharge their public duties, imposed on them by the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act.
The court said that no human being can live with dignity unless there are facilities to maintain basic hygiene and the right conferred by Article 21 cannot be meaningful if facilities of clean toilets and hygienic toilets are not provided to a woman walking on streets. She needs these facilities at public places like Railway Stations, Bus Stands, Banks, Public Offices like State Government Offices/Municipal Offices, the court said. The court also added that public toilets used by women have to be user-friendly, sustainable, safe, clean, hygienic and children/senior citizens/disabled friendly.
The following directions were issued. (Important ones are boldened)