Stating that the absence of toilet facilities at Kolkata Metro Rail stations is a gross violation of rights, a city-based rights organisation, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), has written to the chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

In a letter dated June 15, APDR secretary Ranajit Sur, urged the NHRC to “take cognisance of the issue” and initiate necessary measures”.

The Kolkata Metro Railway network is the first underground rail service in India.

It extends from Dum Dum near the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport to Kavi Subhash station near Patuli on the southern fringes of the city. There are 28 Metro Rail stations in the city.

In its letter, the APDR pointed out that from a mere 10-minute ride of 3.4 km in 1984, the journey time has increased to 49 minutes, covering 25.13 km. In such a situation, the absence of toilet facilities at Metro Rail stations has become a serious concern.

M.r. Sur alleged that even though there was overground toilet facilities for Metro Railway Staff, the authorities had barred passengers from using them.

This caused severe problem to elderly commuters, especially those suffering from diabetes or renal diseases. It also created difficulties for children. It may cause health hazards to passengers, Mr. Sur said.

When contacted, the spokesperson of Metro Railway, R.N. Mahapatra told The Hindu said, “Nowhere in the country toilet facility is provided to passengers either on the train or at the station.” He, however, admitted that there were overground toilet facilities for Metro Railway staff at various stations. Mr. Mahapatra claimed that it was technically difficult to set up toilet facilities for passengers at stations.

The APDR rubbished the Kolkata Metro Railway authorities argument that setting up toilet facilities at underground stations was not technically feasible and pumping up sewage from underground stations would be expensive.

Mr. Sur said “Metro Railways, both national and international, have been providing toilet facilities in their network, whether underground and overground.”

The representatives of the ADPR said that as per the Metro Rail authorities about five lakh passengers utilise the services on a daily basis, and not having toilet is a huge inconvenience to passengers.