You can smell them before you can see them. That about sums up the state of public toilets across the city. With no maintenance whatsoever, the condition of public toilets is pathetic to say the least.

Public toilets are supposed to be maintained by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). But, the fact is that most of them have become unusable, with their maintenance being ignored by the civic body.

For instance, the public toilet block at Neelagiri Papanna Block in Subhashnagar has no water connection, neither is there any maintenance. The women’s toilets are littered with garbage. Most importantly, the toilets have no door locks, while the drainage chamber is overflowing.

Latha, a teacher at the anganwadi next to the public toilet, said that the toilet has hardly seen any water. “This toilet block is very old. It was rebuilt around a decade ago. There were earlier 20 toilets that have now come down to six,” she said. The toilets were maintained for a few days when they were outsourced, she added. “However, with the local people making no effort to use the toilets responsibly, the contractor just gave up,” she said.

The toilet block at Swatantrapalya is no different. According to social worker Purushottam D., the sanitary connections in the area are all clogged. “It is no wonder that the toilets here are blocked. To add to the woes, there is no water connection. It was disconnected as the local people were misusing it to wash their vehicles and even cattle,” he said.

According to Sagar, who sits at the counter at the pay and use toilet at Palace Guttahalli, citizens would rather relieve themselves in the open than pay to use the facility. “There are more people relieving themselves in the open around this toilet than those actually using it,” he said. He said that the toilet was cleaned twice a day and disinfected at least twice a week.

Other than being ill-maintained, quite a few toilets remain locked.

Meanwhile, BBMP officials said that a few local persons had broken open the locks and had converted the free toilets into pay and use ones.

According to data available with the BBMP, there are 534 toilets in the eight zones of the city. While the number of toilets in the newly added zones is 85, there are 449 in three core zones — South (144), West (179) and East (126).

BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah conceded that most public toilets are ill-maintained and that they had become “unruly and exploitation dens”.

He said that the number of toilets were very less, compared to the city’s population. He said that the civic body was planning to devise a mechanism for the effective functioning of the toilets in an environmentally friendly fashion.

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