Delhi Metro Needs More Accessible Toilets, Here's Why
If “subway station toilets are a surprisingly accurate indicator of urban civilization”  Delhi Metro’s inadequate sanitation facilities draw attention to why we need accessible toilets now.
Accessibility is a large and complex term. A dictionary definition of “accessible” is “a place that is able to be reached or entered.” While this is a helpful definition, at Jhatkaa.org, we approach accessibility in an intersectional manner. This means that for a place or a service to be truly accessible, it should be available for all people regardless of their gender, sexuality, caste, ability, religion, class, and age. This approach lays an emphasis on how certain services may be ‘accessible’ on paper, but not in practice and demands that we change that. Now.
For instance, in an RTI response filed by Jhatkaa.org, Delhi Metro Rail Commission (DMRC) has stated that all 367 toilets are trans-friendly and accessible to people with disabilities. However, through a brief survey Jhatkaa.org circulated, we have found that this is not the case for every toilet.
This does not mean that the DMRC is making false claims. The problem is more complex than that. According to DMRC, the toilets were constructed to be accessible. However, in reality, when people try to use the toilets, they are unable to do so. In part, this is because of the lack of signages, which was indicated by commuters in the survey. Imagine you need to urgently use the restroom but just cannot find one. The toilet is not accessible then, is it?
There are a total of 367 toilets in the Delhi Metro out of which 22.6% are outside the Delhi Metro stations, according to the RTI we filed. This is a shockingly large percentage for toilets outside the station because it once again raises the important question of accessibility.
The problem of toilets being outside the station was only brought to our attention when Jhatkaa.org survey asked Delhi metro commuters to share their experiences using sanitation facilities while commuting. To our surprise, a large number of respondents mentioned something on the lines of:
“Not all metro stations have toilets . Even if they do, most of them are outside the ticket counter. So when someone has to use it, they have to exit the metro and then to continue the ride, they have to buy a new ticket again.”
And over half of respondents mentioned that they faced issues accessing/using sanitation facilities. A large number of commuters also expressed that the restrooms are dirty, unkempt, don’t have running water, and soap. Indeed, when one thinks of public restrooms, the immediate picture that comes to our mind is a filthy looking and smelling toilet. This must change, and we need to come together to change this.
Our campaign, we are urging DMRC to firstly acknowledge that accessible and hygienic sanitation facilities are every commuter’s fundamental right and it is their duty to provide it.
We are urging Delhi metro to make the pre-existing toilets functional by making necessary repairs to old ones, and to build hygienic toilets inside all its 286 stations. DMRC should make provisions for toilets accessible to transgender persons and persons with disabilities. We are also demanding the installation of sign boards that effectively direct commuters to the sanitation facilities.
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