Pawan Pal points to the public toilet in Jay Bhim Nagar, Powai which is filthy and in need of repairs. Pics/Sameer Markande
Pawan Pal points to the public toilet in Jay Bhim Nagar, Powai which is filthy and in need of repairs. Pics/Sameer Markande

When Jay Bhim Nagar resident Pawan Pal raised a stink about public toilets in his area, he was given piss poor treatment. Pal had approached a local newspaper to talk about the two public loos - one of which is unfinished while the other is filthy and awaiting repairs - after he failed to get a response from the local Shiv Sena corporator and the BMC.

Pawan says residents prefer defecating in the open rather than using this grubby toilet in Jay Bhim Nagar
Pawan says residents prefer defecating in the open rather than using this grubby toilet in Jay Bhim Nagar

But the move backfired as Sena workers sent him death threats once the article appeared. Pal has now filed an FIR against three of them. Last year, a public toilet in Gautam Nagar was demolished for repair work. However, it is still has not been reconstructed, and moreover, the work on the proposed loo has been stalled for the last two weeks. The other existing public toilet in neighbouring Jay Bhim Nagar is extremely filthy, and many citizens prefer defecating in the open rather than using it. The poor condition of these toilets exists despite the BMC having received a revalidation for the city's 'open defecation free' tag just a week ago.

Construction of the toilet in Gautam Nagar has been stalled for the last two weeks
Construction of the toilet in Gautam Nagar has been stalled for the last two weeks

No toilet
Speaking to mid-day, Pal said, "The toilet in Gautam Nagar was demolished in December last year. The reconstruction was on and the plinth work had been completed, but recently, work was stopped without any reason. Currently, there is no toilet in the Gautam Nagar area."

The loo in Jay Bhim Nagar is in a pathetic condition, to say the least. The doors are broken and most of the time the drainage is choked due to poor sewerage. The lack of toilets is affecting around 1,000 local residents.

Threats over article
Pal, who is a law student, had approached the local BMC office and Shiv Sena corporator Chandravati More about the toilets. Failing to get a response from either, he went to a local newspaper with his grievances. After the article appeared in the paper, blaming More and other Sena leaders, local party workers got angry and threatened to kill Pal.

He further said, "After the article appeared in the newspaper on July 10, Sena shakha pramukh Manish Nair threatened me over the phone. Next day, three more party workers came to my house and verbally abused me. They asked why I'd given the names of the corporator and Nair in the paper. They threatened me with further consequences if I pursued the matter."

FIR registered
But Pal is not surrendering to their threats. He registered an FIR on July 12 against Sena workers, Abdul Khan alias Chhotu, Kameel and Harshvardhan Ghadge at the Powai Police station under sections 452 (House-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (2) (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.

Reacting to the FIR, Nair said, "All three people against whom the FIR has been registered are Sena workers. But Pawan and Chhotu know each other and I am not aware what led to the fight between them."

Booked under false cases
"Sena members even threatened to book me under false cases. In fact, they even approached the Powai police station and registered an NC against my father and me on Thursday," Pal added.

Pal said his motive behind demanding the toilets was to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign 'Jaha Soch Waha Shauchalay' under the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan, which encourages building public toilets in order to end open defecation. "Non availability of toilets was causing inconvenience to the women in the vicinity as they had only two option – to either go to the pay and use toilet or defecate in the open."