Dhagam Foundation audits public toilets in Chennai

By Bhavani Prabhakar Published on Jul 28, 2018 01:51 PM IST

Chennai: Fecal matter lies on the latrine, the faucet releases air instead of water, the mug and bucket are broken. This is the plight of public toilets in the city that are used by the less privileged. We tend to ignore the issue and choose to remain silent.

But Dhagam Foundation, an NGO, reacted differently and is working to fix the issue.

As part of the project 'Open', Dhagam Foundation is organising 'Kakkoos-a-Kaanom' campaign that is set to happen today between 4 and 6 pm at C D Nayagam School, T Nagar.

The initiative aims to reclaim public toilets for the welfare of women community in the city.

Akash Madhi, trustee, Dhagam Foundation, told News Today, "Having taken up this project, we don't intend to build new public toilets but pressurise the government to restore and maintain existing ones. The initiative intends to convey the message of taking measures to clean the lavatories for public usage."

Four months ago, a team comprising around 15 volunteers took up the task of auditing the 500 public toilets in Chennai with picture proofs and came up with a report that details how each toilet is. They plan to release it during the campaign.

Talking about the social audit, 22-year-old Akash adds,"We have done an in-depth study during the audit. Several components such as availability of mug, bucket, dustbins, water, latch fittings, incinerators, etc., were checked and the results that we got by itself is a huge finding and is appalling at the same time."

Taking this campaign forward, the team wants the government to establish 'Chennai Toilet Maintenance Board,' a separate body to look after public restrooms.

"When we took the issues to the government, all we realised was -- none of the department wants to take up the responsibility and started pointing fingers at other boards. For instance, CMWSSB is responsible if the water doesn't flow. We approached them and they brushed the issue aside by saying that the bathroom wasn’t clean and want another  department to fix the issue. We believe that the process would be far simpler if there's a dedicated board to monitor the toilets," adds the independent filmmaker.

The crew has invited politicians of the State with a hope that they will raise the concern in the Assembly sessions which would bring traction to this issue.

Dhagam Foundation does not stop with its ‘Open’ campaign. Parallelly, the members are involved with other projects. ‘Aval’ spreads awareness on menstrual hygiene and focuses on other women issues. Through ‘Karpi’, as the name suggests, the NGO helps underprivileged students in their academic pursuit.