Video Producer: Maaz Hasan
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Cameraperson: Samarth Mishra
On Friday, 17 March, I visited Chennai's Edward Elliot's Beach, popularly known as Besant Nagar Beach. It is one of the most visited beaches in India. In February this year, the beach was declared the cleanest beach in Chennai by the Greater Chennai Corporation.
I could spot good food, groups of people having fun, and a fair, but a public toilet was a big miss.
So, I checked Google Maps to find the nearest public toilet around the beach. Google Maps showed five toilets around me. To find the nearest one, I took help from the locals.
The beach is over two kilometres long. In search of toilets, I started to walk in the south direction with the help of the local vendors.
It took me around 11 minutes to find the nearest toilet. Thankfully, I started around the centre of the beach. If I had started from the extreme north corner of the beach, it would have taken another 11 minutes to reach a toilet.
Upon reaching the toilet, all I could find was crooked infrastructure, dirty floors, and broken doors. The water was overflowing, indicating the sewage system was not working properly.
Imagine someone has to walk for 11 minutes to the toilet only to find out that they can't use it because of the dire condition. I had to pay Rs 5 to use the toilet, which the Greater Chennai Corporation maintains.
And it wasn't just me, I met several people who spoke about the same problems they were facing.
"I am at the beach almost every day, if not every day, then at least thrice a week. The lack of washrooms is quite a hassle because it's a huge beach. There is so much to do there, but the most basic facility is unavailable. It's basic to have public washrooms. Even though there are public washrooms somewhere, they should be nearby, and those washrooms are incredibly unhygienic."Nivedita, Beach Visitor
I spoke to another regular walker who finds walking on longer trails at the beach extremely difficult.
"I am a regular beach walker. Yes, we find it difficult on the longer trails that they aren't available when we require to use toilets. And those available need to be maintained. The users and corporations don't maintain them properly, and that facility can be used only for a short while, and then it becomes trash."Ramaswamy, Beach Visitor
In 2018, the Tamil Nadu government declared Chennai open defecation free. But the reality looks different than that. The government has launched various schemes to build more toilets, but more than that, the operationality of these toilets is more important.
(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)