Activists say public toilets worth Rs 78 crore in Bhiwandi are unusable

Nov 13, 2017, 17:30 IST | Faisal Tandel

Local civic chief refutes allegations, says BNMC is striving to construct and maintain public toilets

Local civic chief refutes allegations, says BNMC is striving to construct and maintain public toilets

Bhiwandi residents are facing a crappy situation despite having access to public loos, according to an activist's claims. They are being forced to defecate in the open because public toilets built for them are either in a poor state or have shut. Ramdas Danwale, 29, is the activist who has been following up the issue with the Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corporation (BNMC).

The public toilet near BNMC's school no. 46, built by MMRDA but presently shut
The public toilet near BNMC's school no. 46, built by MMRDA but presently shut

Since 2014
He claims that since December 2014, he has also sent more than 43 letters and 114 e-mails to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on his personal e-mail regarding the issue, but has received no response.

To research into the public toilet issue, Danwale filed a Right to Information request to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) after an unsavoury experience in 2014, where he was humiliated for not having Rs 2 change after using a poorly-maintained public loo.

Another dysfunctional public toilet near BNMC's school number 6
Another dysfunctional public toilet near BNMC's school number 6

Where does the money go?
He found through the RTI out that in 2008, MMRDA had sanctioned Rs 78.75 crore for building public toilets. "The RTI states MMRDA spent around Rs 54 crore for building a total of 207 public toilets. MMRDA claims the corporation is taking further care of the loos. When I went to see the 207 loos, I found that only 100 are working, while the other 107 are either dysfunctional or shut. Also, the 100 working ones have illegally supplied water and electricity," added Danwale.

"The functional public toilets are handed over to private NGOs, where a single family is supposed to be given a pass of Rs 20 per month. But no passes are made available and people are being charged Rs 2 or R5 per visit. Authorities claim almost around 3 lakh people use public toilets everyday. If they collect Rs 2 from 3 lakh people everyday, it comes up to around Rs 1.80 crore per month. Where is all this money going?" said Danwale.

He added, "Recently, BNMC spent almost Rs 84 lakh for the repair of around 100 toilets. But I visited the spots and found almost half of them are either shut or in a pathetic condition." While people cannot use the loos, defecating in the open often attracts a fine of Rs 200.

'Rubbish allegations'
Responding to Danwale's allegations, Dr. Yogesh Mhase, municipal commissioner of BNMC told mid-day, "The allegations being made about the present situation are rubbish. The condition of the public toilets was poor earlier. But, we have repaired many of them. Few of them had to undergo maintenance work, which took a lot of time. We support the Swacch Bharat Mission and are working towards the betterment of the society and ensuring the city is open defecation free."

Sharing the corporation's data, Mhase further said BNMC had a census target of making 5,856 household latrines, where the final target was 2,608 loos from which 1,882 have been completed and around 217 are under construction. He said Bhiwandi has a total of 408 public and community toilets. Of these, 337 have access to water, 329 to electricity and 323 have doors. Work to provide water,electricityand doors in others has commenced and should be completed within a month.


 

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