New Delhi, March 24, 2017: Last week on March 14, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) meted out a decision which implies all the restaurants and hotels falling under the jurisdiction area of SDMC, to open their toilets to the general public at a maximum charge of Rs. 5 from 1st April onwards.
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The corporation asserts that the decision has been taken to pay heed towards the unavailability of enough toilets in the market areas of South Delhi. It affects the people with the discomfort to answer their urge of nature’s call. The order was taken in the purview of inconvenience faced especially by women in the market areas.
From the 1st of April, it will be involuntary for the hotels and restaurants coming under the jurisdiction of SDMC.
Moving a step further, SDMC has stated that the condition of opening toilets for the general public will be added as a clause in the health trade license which SDMC issues and is required by required to run eateries and hospitality based businesses.
In a statement released by SDMC, it claims that the decision has been taken with consultations from many restaurants. However, their claim is dismissed by restaurants complaining that they were neither consulted nor informed prior to the decision.
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The SDMC’s order taken in a purview to ease the difficulties of finding toiletries in the market places, especially for women, has not got down very well with many of the restaurant owners, while few food chain restaurants wholeheartedly welcomed the step.
Thomas Fenn, co-founder of Mahabelly restaurant in Saket spoke of the owner’s right to admission. Speaking to Indian Express, he said that the hospitality scenario involves the right to admission, which should remain exclusively with the restaurant.
While talking to NewsGram, a manager of a posh hotel in Kailash colony said, “this is not a rational decision. It’s straight violation of the right to admission. Entry to any individual for using our toilets is up to our discretion. Although, we never deny anyone to use our restroom as it’s nature’s call but making it a mandate poses a threat to our security. How will we tackle a group of drunkards or boorish people who may misbehave with our customers”.
The disagreement of adhering the SDMC’s verdict lies largely with the high end and 5-star hoteliers. In a contrast, many food chain restaurants are gladly supportive of the decision as they see it as the next move of Swaccha Bharat Abhiyaan.
“We generally allow anyone who wishes to use our restroom so we don’t have any problem if it becomes mandatory for all. We are in the business of hospitality and appreciate this move. It will help the Prime Minister’s vision of Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan to get more robust,” an employee at Cafe Coffee Day in Amar colony said while talking to NewsGram.
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Earlier, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) was dismissive towards the decision terming it as populist and a touted move by SDMC in a wake of upcoming elections. But on Wednesday, bringing down its rancor, NRAI agreed to comply the order with a condition that it will only let women use the toilets.
“On a trial basis for the period of four weeks for women, only with the discretion of individual restaurateurs covering the safety and security aspects,” Riyaz Almani, President of NRAI said while speaking to media.
Prior to their current take, NRAI heavily criticized the move of SDMC and alleged the corporation for hiding their failure to provide public sanitation facilities as per the public requirement.
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The data published by mentioned below corroborates the allegations made by NRAI over the corporation.
- There are total 580 urinals in the administration of SDMC. Out of which, 480 are toilets and only 140 are accessible to women
- The restaurants and hotels coming under SDMC will provide more than 3500 toilets to the general public
- Only 40 toilets were constructed by SDMC in the year 2016-17
- While it’s proposed that 200 more toilets would be constructed in 2017-18
The move has exulted the public, especially women. Sanitation is the basic problem that inhibits women to use the public washrooms; the lack of clean toilet facilities mostly affect them.
Akashi Saxena, who works at a firm near Greater Kailash 1 M Block, said this will help women immensely. “Getting a public toilet can be a big headache at times, and even if you find it, sanitation is a big issue,” she said to Hindustan Times.
While most men and children resort to public urination when they cannot find public toilets, women, and persons with medical conditions land in a terrible fix.
The mandate of SDMC will ease the life of many people outside of the premises of their homes but the contradictions resonating the ordeal from the end of restaurateurs should also be addressed.
Riyaaz Amlani, president of the National Restaurant Association of India, pointed out that providing public toilets was the job of civic bodies and the government.
“That does not mean that a civic body can force us to commit to such a service,” said Amlani, who runs several popular restaurants. “Most restaurants usually do not stop anyone looking out for a washroom or a glass of water. But that is supposed to be out of humanity and not under any guidelines.”
Amlani added: “The other question is of security – we are responsible for the safety and security of our clients. What if we lose our power to exercise control over the admission of people in the property and later something untoward happens? Who shall be accountable for that? So far, we have only read the notification and are trying to arrange a meeting with the municipal body to discuss the matter at the earliest.”
Despite the fact that both the parties have valid points on the argument of following the order, it can’t be subsided that being the richest of the three corporations, the SDMC has failed to comply with its duties in administering sanitation facilities to the public. Also, arrival of the current ordeal at the time of forthcoming municipal elections evokes the suspicion over genuinity of the move.
-reported by Ashish Srivastava of NewsGram Twitter @PhulRetard