Coimbatore Corporation’s toilet for the differently abled at the main office, says the inscription on the wall. The toilet complex housing one each for men and women is just a few steps away from the office of the Corporation Commissioner in Town Hall.
The toilet is one of the 12 the Corporation built across the city in 2012 to help the orthopedically challenged attend to nature’s call. Two years down the line, the toilet has turned differently abled unfriendly – the Corporation has dumped its office waste, wooden reapers and other waste blocking the entrance. Overcoming those obstacles to reach toilet is a challenging task to anybody, leave alone differently abled.
Even if one were to clear the hurdles, a Corporation vehicle in disuse blocks the way.
And then finally, there are the chain and lock that greet visitors.
The toilet is one of the many that is out of bounds for the differently abled. The toilet at the Singanallur Bus Stand is far worse. A push cart in disuse that is up on its sides blocks the way to the men’s differently abled toilet.
It is perhaps a sign of warning.
Inside, it is worse. Human waste is all over the floor with flies swarming the ground. The stench is so unbearable so as push out users. The women’s toilet is marginally better but again the entrance is blocked with a barricade. Both the toilets do not have taps in working condition.
The differently toilet in the Ukkadam is no better.
It is out of bounds for the differently abled who use wheel chairs because the slope of the ramp to enable the users to wheel in is very unfriendly.
The entrance to the men’s and women’s toilets is also too narrow for users to move in with wheel chairs.
The toilet design went against the Coimbatore Corporation’s objectives – while constructing the toilets in 2012 the Corporation said that it would build the toilets in such a way that persons with physical disability were able to move in with their wheel chairs.
The Corporation also said that it would fix handrails to walls to enable differently abled move with ease within the toilets.
It had provided the rails but they are rusted at many toilets.
The poor maintenance has upset the differently abled community in Coimbatore, which says that the very purpose of constructing the toilets stands negated. For people like Surya Nagappan, a differently abled activist, it means frantically looking for places with cover to attend to nature’s call.
For differently abled women it is worse, says N. Padmavathy. They prepare themselves by drinking water to the minimum to avoid using toilets.
The differently abled say that the Corporation will do well to handover the maintenance of the toilets to the members of the community, who will do a better job as they have stakes.
Or, the Corporation could rope in corporate companies, which could do it as part of their corporate social responsibility work.
Giving the maintenance to the contractor, who also maintains other toilets, only turns things worse, they say.
Corporation Deputy Commissioner S. Sivarasu says that the civic body will pull up the contractor and make the toilets differently abled friendly at the earliest.