Although the latest census data on houses, household amenities and assets indicates that close to 95 per cent of the households in the city have access to toilets, public health experts state that a large pocket of the population comprising the poorer segments is denied the facility.
The 2011 census figures state that out of 23,77,056 households in Bangalore, only 5.2 per cent don’t have toilets. However, when it comes to numbers, this translates to more than 1,20,000.
Shahina Sultana, project manager (sanitation), Mytri Sarva Seva Samiti, said that lack of space for open defecation and awareness are the two contributing factors that have helped Bangalore achieve such a high figure. However, she mentions that according to a survey conducted by her organisation in 54 slums, 40 per cent don’t have toilets. “This means that most of the people who don’t have access to toilets are in the slums,” she says.
She also stated that most people from the low socioeconomic background are dependent on community toilets for defecation.
A community that lives in a cattle shed in Tasker Town, Shivajinagar, has just one toilet for 100 people.
Similarly, another community that lives in temporary sheds in Bheemanakuppe had nine toilets for 200 people a year ago. But Mahadeviah, a resident there, said: “Now, none of the toilets can be used as they are in a very poor condition. This causes inconvenience to women, children and the old people as they have to wait to go to the toilet after dusk.”
Bangalore’s percentage of households without toilets is far better than the State’s average of 48.8.
In some districts in north Karnataka such as Gadag, Koppal, Raichur and Bijapur, more than 80 per cent of households don’t have the facility. Public health experts state that lack of sanitation makes people vulnerable to water-prone and vector-borne diseases.
Vishwanath, an adviser to Arghyam, a trust that focuses on water and sanitation, said: “Toilet is only the first step towards achieving complete sanitation.”