Purvi Jain, Bhopal: Inaugurated after nine months’ delay, the first two ‘She Lounges’ — state-of-the-art public
toilets for women – have disappointed women of Bhopal as they lack facilities mentioned in the plan.
According to the plan, a ‘She Lounge’ would have a free-to-use air-conditioned zone where there will be women staff, napkin disposer, waiting room with seating facilities, Wi-Fi , FM radio, ATM and a novelty shop of cosmetics and daily need items.
A reality check shows the She Lounges, opened at 10 no. market and Polytechnic Square, have no Wi-Fi, radio system, female staff, LED TV, cosmetics and daily needs shop, and also no parking facility.
In July 2015, the Bhopal Municipal Corporation promised to set up eight She Lounges to ensure safety and comfort to women. The BMC was awarded for the, scheduled to be completed by December 2015.
“For women, Bhopal is an unfriendly city; there is no clean public toilet, and no place for us to take rest during summer months,” Sangeeta Mota, a city woman, said, adding that the two ‘She Lounges’ would be of no much use.
“Lounges can prove dangerous for women if safety is not ensured,” said Bela Nigam, a schoolteacher. “How can a She Lounge run without women custodians and security guards?”
She Lounges, incorporated as a feature of the smart city project, aim to provide clean toilet facilities and amenities for lady shoppers and working women in commercial areas. The ‘She-lounge’ concept was awarded for being the best smart city initiative in the Elets Smart city conference, Delhi.
Lounges were conceptualised as women-centric, but a man operates a food outlet at 10 number market lounge.
The BMC plans to set up more such lounges at New Market, Bittan Market, and MP Nagar zone 1 and zone 2. Officials said an agency would be appointed to construct and maintain the lounges, but no agency has been appointed yet.
BMC sources said foundation was laid for a lounge at MP Nagar last year, but after that nothing happened. The then BMC commissioner Tejaswi Naik said, “Lounges are a vital necessity for women as they avoid using public urinals because of instinctive embarrassment, male receptionists, cleanliness issues and antisocial setting.”
But women will avoid entering the city’s two lounges because of their locations. “Who will use this toilet at Polytechnic Square? There is neither a market nor a parking. Are these lounges built only for pedestrians? It is built at such an eye-catching location that many may not use it,”said Shobhna Dhariwal, a resident of Idgah hills