Citizens say toilets on Colaba waterfront are eyesore, BMC hits back

Oct 25, 2018, 20:00 IST | Hemal Ashar

Colaba residents say that the toilets on the waterfront are an eyesore and an alternative space could have been found for them

Citizens say toilets on Colaba waterfront are eyesore, BMC hits back
Subhash Motwani, Pervez Cooper and Meher Sanjana point to the toilets on the promenade. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Three e-toilets, also known as bio toilets, installed in September on the waterfront leading from the Gateway of India towards Radio Club in Colaba, have invited the ire of the Clean Heritage Colaba Residents' Association (CHCRA). Several locals say that the toilets on the waterfront are an eyesore and an alternative space could have been found for them. This way, they are defacing the heritage precinct walk.

Bio toilets disintegrate and decompose human waste into water and biogas. The decomposition is carried out by bacteria in the bio-digestion tank. They are environment friendly and reduce water consumption. Pervez Cooper, vice-president CHCRA said, "They look atrocious, three boxes simply jutting out from the promenade. We are totally in sync with those who think that Mumbai needs more public toilets, but there are other spaces where they can be placed. In the monsoon, when there is high tide, the water rises above the promenade wall and comes onto the road. These toilets will be unusable then."

Letters fly
The CHCRA had sent a letter to Harshad Kale, deputy municipal commissioner, on October 13, drawing his attention to the three public toilets on the seafront opposite Strand hotel. Stating that they need to be removed immediately, the letter said, 'If there is a necessity for toilets they should be installed along the Gateway of India or alongside the seafront which is behind Radio Club, so that they don't disrupt the view.' The letter has also been copied to BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta. Residents' objections have been bolstered by another letter to the BMC, dated October 16, in which local corporator Sujata Sanap too, stated that there were toilets a few metres away, so this was not an ideal location for these toilets.

A balance
Subhash Motwani, CHCRA president, said, "There is a Sulabh (toilet) behind Radio Club and officials could have installed signage telling people that the toilets are located at that spot. They could have also put these toilets close to those as there is space for them. Why spoil a good touristy location? There has been no application of mind in this installation." Meher Sanjana, a Colaba resident asked, "Why use this promenade? We understand there is huge tourist traffic, but there are several alternatives to this space." To a question about whether he has received a letter citing some residents' objections to the toilet location, BMC chief Mehta said tersely, "The ward officials will take a decision and it will be one which balances the need for public toilets and site constraints with reference to heritage."

Not ugly
Kale, deputy municipal commissioner, said, "These are bio toilets. They use technology similar to that in airplane toilets, they are not regular brick 'n' mortar toilets. This area has considerable footfalls. Tourists who walk from the Gateway towards Radio Club, may need the toilets. Visitors who arrive in chauffer-driven cars can access hotels. Their drivers though have no sanitation facilities and these toilets will fulfill that need. This is a service to citizens." Kale added that recently, "A representation was made to Radio Club by 'A' ward officials with reference to the facility. Concerns were addressed and questions answered." He stressed that civic authorities will maintain the toilets and dismissed suggestions that they were unaesthetic telling this reporter to, "go and take a look for yourself and judge."

Better option
Prakash Mirchandani, Jt Hon Secretary, Radio Club said, "There was a presentation about these bio toilets. People have to pay R5 to use them. The wall near our club was being used as a urinal, so this certainly is a better option. I think we should see how they work, we cannot say not near our club. The Taj hotel might say then not near our hotel, and another smaller hotel may say do not place them hereā€¦ we cannot have a 'not in my neighbourhood' mentality for a citizen service."

Rs 5
What people will pay to use the bio toilets

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