mid-day editorial: Put citizens' needs before ego clashes

Even as India aspires to become a global superpower, millions of its citizens aren’t even given the dignity of access to a toilet, forced to instead defecate in the open. Here, in Mumbai, even when the authorities try to improve the situation by building toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the efforts are derailed by ego clashes between the government agencies.

A front-page report in this paper yesterday highlighted how the BMC and Western Railway have wasted time and money, bickering over a toilet instead of coordinating with each other. In March, the BMC began building a pay-and-use toilet under the Bandra East skywalk without informing WR about it. In return, WR demolished the toilet without giving the corporation any warning.

Two months later, the BMC is determined to build the toilet at the same spot again, and but the civic body and the railways are still arguing about it.

The colossal waste of time in this back and forth could have been avoided if both sides had simply kept clear channels of communication. Both bodies could have held a dialogue before building or demolishing the toilet.

Toilets are a much-needed public utility in Mumbai and, of course, a necessary part of infrastructure. However, there has to be a clear blueprint and idea about how and where to construct these facilities. The civic authorities have been given a mandate to build more toilets, but these have to be planned in a manner that ensures no encroachment on walking spaces or any inconvenience to citizens. Otherwise, it would be a hindrance rather than a service.

One cannot understand why a simple, basic service is steeped has become so contentious. Sometimes, it is toilets on platforms and other times, it is public toilets in wards that seem to have become a battleground for various reasons. Let us not waste precious time, money or manpower on inanities like this. A clear line of thought and action is all it takes.

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