The country may have more mobile phones than toilets but answering the call of nature, it seems, is determined by the pecking order even in some top government offices in the nation’s capital which do not have a dearth of rest rooms.
Blame it on a colonial hangover or the assumed superiority of bureaucrats in the corridors of power, these offices, The Indian Express has found, have rules in place that reserve some toilets exclusively for officers of a specified rank and above.
The affirmative action apparently aims to allow senior officers to ease themselves in cleaner facilities and is in practise in no less than the Prime Minister’s Office, the Home Ministry, Environment Ministry, the Department of Personnel and Training and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, to name a few.
The PMO, in fact, issued a circular as recently as August 23, 2013 to remind those working there about where they could go or not go.
“It has been observed that staff not entitled to use these toilets are using the same, leaving the premises dirty,” the circular said referring to toilets reserved for senior officers.
“To avoid any embarrassing situation, all staff members are expected to refrain from using toilets that are exclusively marked ‘For Officers Only’, failing which administration will be constrained to take suitable action against staff defaulting on this count.”
The circular was issued by Under Secretary R Mythily and accessed by The Indian Express through the RTI Act. The PMO reply also said that there are 13 toilets in the complex of which two are reserved for senior officers.
A similar circular had been issued on March 10, 2010 but had obviously not succeeded in curbing the tendency in the PMO to break barriers when it came to matters of the bladder.
“The undersigned is constrained to issue this order primarily because it is observed that staff not entitled to use this toilet is using the same, leaving the premises dirty,” the March 2010 circular issued by Under Secretary K Sail Kumar had said.
The justification for such reservation, officials said, was to ensure that toilets are “neat and clean all the time”. They also said that the PMO frequently has international visitors and it is important that they can use rest rooms that are clean.
Responding to queries from The Indian Express under the RTI Act, the Environment Ministry said that there are 24 toilets at its headquarters in Paryavaran Bhawan