Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, needs modern public toilets, said speakers at a World Toilet Day in Agra on Thursday.
They demanded that modern public toilets be constructed at every kilometre so that defecation in the open comes to an end in India’s top tourist destination. The toilets must come up especially around historical monuments, they said.
With more than a dozen such monuments spread all over the city, Agra badly needed a string of modern toilets, said Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.
Sharma said public toilets at the monuments were not properly maintained.
Anand Rai, president of India Rising group, said: “Women say they need toilets in all the markets and commercial complexes. Right now there was a pathetic lack of toilets in the city and the image of the city in the eyes of visitors is dented on this count.”
The situation is no different in neighbouring Mathura.
In a memorandum to District Magistrate Rajesh Kumar, activist Pavan Gautam in Mathura demanded clean public toilets for millions of pilgrims who throng the region round the year.
In Goverdhan and Vrindavan, both holy places for Hindus, there were hardly any public toilets for the pilgrims, activists complain.
Social activists are more concerned about the spectacle of men and women defecating by the roadside in most parts of Agra, around the historical monuments, near railway tracks and in public parks.
“Government bodies have shown no interest in maintaining the existing toilets and cite resource crunch as a major reason for not opening more. But we do need well-maintained public toilets,” added activist Shravan Kumar Singh.
Social activist Anshu Pareek laments the lack of toilets for women.
“Bad toilet habits and unclean toilets breed many common ailments. Times have changed. From predominantly rural, we are now becoming an urban society,” she said.
“People should therefore prepare themselves to adjust to new conditions and change their mindset,” she added.