These are not public toilets but restrooms inside ministries on the premises of Singha Durbar, the seat of power. Nonetheless, around 400 toilets inside the Government Secretariat are as dirty as public toilets and stink just the same, thanks to a perennial shortage of water. Even if you rush to these toilets during urgency, your urge will peter out soon as you encounter a repugnant site and stench that make you want to throw up. The Home Ministry building is the worst.
“This problem has been persisting for long but no one is serious about addressing it,” says Surya Khadka, an employee at the Home Ministry, blaming indifference on the part of higherups for it. As a result, over 5,000 people, including 3,900 staffers, have no option but to accept the conditions as they are.
As the Home Ministry building lacks women-friendly toilet, women staffers have to climb down the stairs and rush to nearby buildings to address the nature's call. “Now we are used to doing it this way,” reveals Rita Shrestha, a non-gazetted officer at the ministry. Ironically, bathrooms of the Ministry of Water Resources building too have no water to flush out waste. “Sometimes the employees have to take bottled water inside,” admits Amar Kumar Pradhan, Under- Secretary at the ministry. “Thanks to scarcity of water, coping with foul smell has become an everyday routine.” A report of the study conducted by the Martyr Dharma Bhakta Study Foundation last year states that ministries and other administrative offices inside Singha Durbar are the “worstmanaged ones” in terms of hygiene and sanitation. The report also suggests the employees do not want to stay in the offices for long and cannot focus on their work for obvious reasons. “All this is taking a toll on the performance of government employees,” says Bisnu Khanal, a member of the study group, which has also made a documentary on it. The study, which interviewed 35 Under-Secretaries and other staffers of the ministries, revealed that no concrete step had been taken to address the problem. The study found that the Finance Ministry toilets stink the least. A government secretary said on condition of anonymity that foreign visitors hesitate to have tea, thanks to unhygienic conditions at the ministries. “These toilets show how civilised our policy-makers are,” says Khanal, rueing at the prevalent condition at the ministries.