According to the UN, sanitation – access to, and use of, excreta and wastewater facilities and services such as clean toilets is a basic human right. However, the Bhagabati Chatterjee street, Belgharia, a suburb of Kolkata has just two toilets that are used by more than eighty families of the locality. The toilet which consists of one chamber and two unisex latrines, is in a deteriorated condition, with no basic facilities such as water, drainage system or electricity – a serious sanitation issue.
The lack of these basic amenities makes cleaning the toilets, a hard task in itself. The absence of a proper drainage and garbage disposal system has affected the neighbourhood too, as the smell from filth emanates the surroundings. “Sometimes the stench is so strong, I can’t eat or sleep,correspondent,” says Ritu Barma, a resident of the Bhagabati Chatterjee street where our to correspondent Rebeka Parvin, who is also a member of the same community. Due to the lack of proper drainage, the latrine overflows on to the road on some days.
The unhygenic surrounding has become a breeding ground for diseases, threatening the health of the children in Bhagabati Chatterjee street. Long queues outside the toilets, especially during the morning means many working residents and students get late to their destinations. “Our young girls often have to use the bathroom at night because the mornings are so hectic,” says Ritu.
According to the residents, the lack of toilets is an ongoing issue since the past 20 years. Though the residents have made several complaints to the muncipality, not much has been done about the situation. “We are tired of repeatedly telling the municipality about our problem,” says Dineah Singh. Rebekka also tried to bring a solution to this problem, by attempting to interviewthe chairperson of the Kamarhati municipality; but he refused to comment. Sanitation is a basic human right. Help Rebekka and her community get access to adequate, clean toilets. Lend her your voice. Gopal Saha, the municipality chairperson of Kamarhati and demand adequate bathrooms and facilities for the 80 families.