Mumbai: BJP now wants to use toilets to get a leg up on ally Shiv Sena

After the Sena-led BMC decided to allow slum dwellers to build their own toilets, the BJP government wants to get Central funding to construct such facilities in Coastal Regulatory Zones (CRZs), where construction is barred

It's a story of two projects and a political turf war. Close on the heels of the city civic body’s decision to allow every slum hutment to construct its own toilet, the government wants to construct sanitation facilities in areas controlled under the coastal regulatory zones (CRZ), where construction is barred.

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The Centre-state sponsored plan means that people will not spend from their own pockets to have their own toilets. They may use the public facilities or may be offered grants up to R5,000 each under the Swachh Bharat scheme to construct personal toilets. Representation pic
The Centre-state sponsored plan means that people will not spend from their own pockets to have their own toilets. They may use the public facilities or may be offered grants up to R5,000 each under the Swachh Bharat scheme to construct personal toilets. Representation pic

It has written to the Centre in this regard. It has also sought the Centre’s funding for the project under the PM’s flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The decision is seen as a move to counter the Sena-led BMC, which has started issuing permits to slum dwellers for constructing toilets using their own money.

With its effort, the BJP is expected to get credit for the scheme ahead of the 2017 civic polls by linking it with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The Centre-state sponsored plan means that people will not spend from their own pockets to have their own toilets.

They may use the public facilities or may be offered grants up to Rs 5,000 each under Swachh Bharat scheme to construct personal toilets. Around 12 lakh families are living in slums, which have little access to the civic sanitation network.

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Officials in Mantralaya said that a majority of slum dwellers may find it hard to go in for personal toilets because of lack of water connections at home. They will have to seek water connections from the BMC before constructing the facility, which needs to be linked to the city’s sewerage network, the officials said.

Other than slum dwellers, the state’s decision is expected to benefit motorists who use the Eastern Express Highway and Mumbai Port Trust roads that have CRZ areas adjacent to them, where no construction is allowed. Toilets will be allowed to come up along these roads as well.

Funds needed
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was in New Delhi on Wednesday to attend a meeting of NITI Aayog’s sub-committee on Swachh Bharat, told reporters in the capital that he has not only sought permission to construct toilets on the CRZ land, but also asked for adequate funds for the project.

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He has also asked for viability gap funding (where a project is given a one-time grant) if the state goes for public-private sanitation model for the projects in the city and rest of the state. “In places like Mumbai, people are forced to defecate in the open because of paucity of toilets.

Moreover, the authorities cannot construct toilets in CRZ land (where any kind of construction is barred by law). I have asked the Centre to resolve the issue as early as possible,” Fadnavis said after the meeting. The CM said that the state has planned to eradicate open defecation in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra by 2017 (which, incidentally, is the year for Mumbai’s civic polls). He also admitted that meeting the 2017 deadline will be difficult in some places.

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