If you intend to visit Shopian make sure you come with your bladder empty, warn the residents of this bustling town in southern Kashmir.
The entire town, one of the centers of apple trade in the valley, has just three public toilets, one of them tucked inside a narrow ally without any signage.
The lack of public toilets in the town causes lots of inconvenience to residents and visitors alike, particularly the women.
Residents say a small washroom complex was constructed at the old bus stand in Shopian a few years ago, but has no water supply most of the time and no separate arrangement for women.
“First the authorities took a good amount of time in constructing it then they locked it up for many months, and now it has no separate washrooms for the women,” said Abdul Rashid, a local resident.
He said that another toilet near Gole Chakri is hidden behind a bank and is also meant only for men.
“A third toilet in the town is also exclusively used by men”, Rashid added.
A female teacher, who works in a local government-run school, said that women folk suffered because of the absence of toilets in the town.
“We face a nerve-raking time in case we need to go to a washroom,” she said.
Many residents told Greater Kashmir that they had been complaining about absence of public toilets for long but to no avail.
Shopian district has a population of more than 2.6 million and people from many areas visit the town daily for one or the other purpose, many forced to take a pee along the streets.
“The problem is more acute during the peak apple season when non-local businessmen and truckers visit the town. The walls and narrow alleys stink with the acrid smell of urine,” said Javed Ahmad, another resident.
Executive Officer Muncipal Committe Shopain, Imtiyaz Ahmad Dar, said that the construction work on ten community type latrines in the town has already been taken up under Swach Bharat mission, expected to throw them open soon.
“They will be used by the floating population as well,” Dar said.