Few toilets for women at city railway stations

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 24 Februari 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Women travelling by Mumbai's suburban rail system have to reconcile with the woefully inadequate toilet facilities at stations.

Details sought under the Right to Information (Act) have revealed the lack of proper toilet facilities on Western Railway's suburban network as well as the three suburban lines on Central Railway.

Figures at most stations indicate that authorities discount the necessity of such facilities for women at the planning stage itself.

For example, of the 38 toilet/urinal facilities at Andheri, only four were for women. Of the 83 urinals and toilets at CST, only 10 were for women, including two urinals. Even at Dadar, only eight of the total 43 toilets were reserved for women.

RTI activist Chetan Kothari, who filed the query, said, "As many as 24 stations on the Mumbai suburban network don't have more than one lavatory or urinal facility for women commuters. Of these, 15 are on CR's Main line, seven on the Harbour line and five on the WR."

Most stations which have only one toilet are those which witnessed significant growth in passenger traffic in the past few years. Kothari said, "Stations like Currey Road and Parel on CR and Elphinstone Road and Lower Parel have become busier because several corporate offices have shifted on the mill land located in this part of the city. However, authorities failed to upgrade toilet infrastructure for women at these stations." Also Matunga (CR), which has a significant number of student commuters, doesn't have more than one toilet for women.

Kothari said, "I was surprised to know that even a station like Bandra, which is a shoppers' paradise besides offering connectivity to Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), had only one toilet for women. Malad, which has turned into a major business hub, also has only one toilet facility."

CR's Main line has 29 stations between CST and Ambernath, with a total of 299 toilet/urinals, of which only 62 toilets and 13 urinals are for women commuters.

On the Harbour line, there is huge disparity between stations in Navi Mumbai and those elsewhere. There are 454 toilets facilities across 23 stations. Of these, women have been earmarked 78, including 70 lavatories. "Only stations build by Cidco in Navi Mumbai have adequate toilets, stations like Tilak Nagar, Dockyard, Sewri, Cotton green, Chembur have only one toilet facility each," he said.

On WR, there are 676 restroom facilities across 30 stations. Of these 119 are for women, including 86 lavatories and 33 urinals. Kothari said, "Borivli, with 13 toilets for women, is the only station on the entire suburban network where toilet for women commuters cross the double-digit mark."

A railway official said, "Space is a major constraint for building more toilet blocks. The effort to build one through public-private-partnership did not yield much success." Another official said, "The Railways is trying to find a solution to the problem through the pay-and-use system. But it is not successful as contractors usually sacrifice quality by using inferior quality cleaning agents to recover bidding costs and maximize profits."

Shailesh Goyal, member, National Rail Users Consultative committee said, "Toilet blocks for women should be built on both ends of platforms. They should be properly lit and manned by women personnel. A separate department should be created for the maintenance of toilet and urinals."

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