Dehra Dun prides itself as a city of sophistication & grace. Long before it became the capital of Uttarakhand, it has been the educational capital of North India, and with its population of government servants and educated middle class, has always had a distinct elitist tinge.
Tragically our city shares one social malady with other North Indian cities, the unabashed use of its streets as an open air urinal. From the daily labourer to the iPod carrying college student, no one thinks twice before unzipping himself in public and urinating at the wall in front. Never mind the ladies and children walking by. Never mind if a public urinal is just 10 meters away. Who cares? It seems to be almost like combing your hair in public! There is no shame involved. The only people embarrassed seem to be those unfortunate enough to be passing by.
Such revolting sights are common all over Dehra Dun, with seemingly educated joining the illiterate at it. While in other parts of the world it is the intoxicated people who may urinate publicly, in our country people in full senses do it. Further more how can one explain people urinating publicly just meters from a clean public restroom?
Educated middle class families sometimes encourage, rather than discourage, children, especially boys, to urinate in the open, with the “chalta hai” attitude, which in turn becomes accepted as “normal” in later adult life. (Therefore, training to hold the bladder should start from childhood.) Poorer families are too busy struggling with life to worry about such niceties. So, is there something we can do about it?
Firstly, clean public urinals in Dehra Dun are too few and far in between. If you are new to an area, finding one is a challenge. Signs should be put at crossings showing way to the nearest toilet. A great majority of unattended public toilets in Dehra Dun are however never cleaned and simply too dirty to use.
Secondly, no charges should be levelled for using the toilets. People balk at paying even a rupee for something which they can do in open air for free! Enough revenue can be generated from advertisements, as is common in Delhi and other big cities. Such charges also dissuade poorer people from using the facility. If we want a clean Doon, we must provide basic services to the people without any charge.
Most Doon markets do not have any public restroom. Where will all the visitors and more importantly, the people who work in these markets, go to relieve themselves? It is difficult to locate a toilet even in multinational banks and offices. The authorities must insist on construction of clean, easily locatable toilets in all upcoming offices / shopping complexes. Similar all banks and offices could be directed to ensure an easily accessible, well labelled, public toilet.
Where do thousands of people who converge daily in Doon for rallies relive themselves? On your roads, of course, as this aspect is never taken into consideration before giving permission to hold such events. Dehra Dun Municipal Corporation could buy a number of mobile toilets and hire them out, on payment, to organizers of such events. The DM’s office could ensure that toilets are hired before giving permission for the events. Mobile toilets could also be placed in markets, bus stops and other public places.
Once adequate infrastructure is in place, then people indulging in public urination must be fined. Posters could be put up at vantage points warning people against it. In the US state of New Hampshire there is a fine of $1000 /- for such indiscretion.
However, the most important player in this war against public urination is the humble school teacher. If we could imbibe in our students’, at an early age, revulsion for such acts, half the battle would be won and in about a generation this practise will disappear. Are the teachers of Doon, listening?
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