We need toilets, not BMC's bins, say Dadar market shopkeepers

More than 300 shopkeepers at a market located in Dadar await toilets since 2012; slam the BMC's efforts for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan after civic body distributes dustbins

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has come up with a rigorous cleanliness drive and also announced a cleanliness week on November 14, but the voice of shopkeepers of Dadar’s municipal market remains unheard.

Two years ago, the shopkeepers of Savarkar Veer Mandai at Dadar West had written to the G-North Ward office and demanded that toilets be built for over 300 shopkeepers.

The lack of the toilets in the area is a huge inconvenience to more than 100 fisherwomen who work for over 10 hours in the market. Pic/Shadab Khan
The lack of the toilets in the area is a huge inconvenience to more than 100 fisherwomen who work for over 10 hours in the market. Pic/Shadab Khan

All they have received is the empty promise of the file being in process since 2012. To add insult to injury, the civic body set up a mobile toilet in the area a year ago which emanates foul odour and has affected the surrounding shopkeepers’ business.

Recently, after the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was announced, the BMC’s Market Department distributed dustbins to the Dadar shopkeepers and allocated some space in the area to dump the waste.

Little wonder the shopkeepers are crying foul at the civic body’s double standards. Ninad Pilankar, a shopkeeper who owns a masala store in the market, said, “Until two years ago, there was a toilet in the market right opposite my shop. It was dilapidated, so the BMC brought it down and installed a mobile toilet right in front of my shop. It is filthy, the stink is unbearable and nobody comes to clean it. We have written to the BMC a number of times but nothing has happened. Now, we have been given these bins — but what about basic hygiene? We, the shopkeepers have been plain lucky to not have contracted contagious diseases due to the BMC’s lackadaisical attitude. It is too busy blaming the ward office and the Market Department for having no funds to build toilets for us.”

Trying for women
The situation is especially trying for the women who work in the area. The Savarkar Veer Mandai has also about 100 fisherwomen who work for over 10 hours in the market and suffer due to the lack of toilets in the area. Manekabai Hawlekar, one of the fisherwomen, said, “I cannot help but come to this market to sell fish because I have built a customer base here. Not having toilets around makes matters worse for women.

What can we do beyond approaching the BMC officials? Is the civic body really serious about cleanliness in the city?” she demanded.

On the other hand, sources in the BMC claimed that the tenders were ready to be floated for the construction of the toilet but have been held up because the local ward office thought the Market Department would do it, and the Market Department thought the maintenance would be the ward office’s job.

On Thursday, Additional Municipal Commissioner, Vikas Kharge announced that the new toilets will soon be constructed at the Dadar market. There will be stronger emphasis on their maintenance and their number, too, will increase as the city observes World Toilet Day on November 19.

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