Customs department's Rs 10 lakh gift for city's sporting kids

Updated: Jan 11, 2020, 08:21 IST | Gordon D'costa | Mumbai

A chance visit to Azad Maidan by a former hockey player, who is now a govt official, results in spanking new loos for children

A refurbished toilet at the MSSA ground, Azad Maidan. Pic/Atul Kamble
A refurbished toilet at the MSSA ground, Azad Maidan. Pic/Atul Kamble

A chance visit by a former Mumbai hockey player to the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) ground at Azad Maidan a few months ago has turned into a boon for the many youngsters who play at the venue throughout the year.

Former hockey defender Murli Agniswar, Assistant Director with the Risk Management Centre for Customs, who had gone to watch a football match at MSSA in October, was so appalled by the unhygienic condition of the restrooms there that he sought the help of his department to construct new toilets.

"I found that there was only one toilet block for boys and no proper toilets for girls; even that was very unhygienic. I immediately approached MSSA President, Fr Jude Rodrigues with a proposal under our Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan scheme to renovate and construct a new toilet block for boys and girls. I'm glad he accepted our offer," Agniswar told mid-day on Friday.

The refurbished toilets at the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) ground in Azad Maidan. PIC/ATUL KAMBLEThe refurbished toilets at the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) ground in Azad Maidan. Pic/ Atul Kamble

mid-day had reported on the shabby condition of MSSA's toilets with parents and students even complaining about the state of them. MSSA did erect a couple of cabins with toilet amenities, but they were not always made available to the kids.

A couple of months ago, a parent was forced to take her young daughter and two other teammates, who had come to play an inter-school match, to the nearby Metro Cinema restrooms.

It has been over three years since the toilets at MSSA were refurbished, and an urgent makeover was much needed, particularly since the needs of female students were being ignored.

It is learnt that the Risk Management Centre for Customs shelled out approximately R9.5 lakh for this initiative. The refurbished facility was inaugurated by Ajay G Ubale, Principal Additional Director General, Risk Management Centre for Customs, on December 31.

Murli AgniswarMurli Agniswar

"This exercise was carried out keeping in mind our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi's vision and mission of Clean India, Fit India. It is the duty of every member of the society to contribute actively towards swachhta [cleanliness] activities in and around them on a regular basis and encourage people to remain fit and healthy by including physical activities and sports in their daily lives," said Ubale.

With new restrooms in place, it is now up to the school sports body to maintain hygiene and upkeep around the facility that continues to be surrounded by junk which is in stark contrast to this swachh initiative.

Rs 9.5L
Amount spent by Risk Management Centre for Customs on this initiative

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