Mumbai: BMC built no toilets this year, says communities refuse to construct it in backyard
Civic body fails abysmally in bridging the toilet-population divide, issues a mere 266 work orders to build new community toilets as opposed to the 6,071 planned in January
Despite its aim to bring down the users to toilet ratio in community toilets, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has issued construction orders for only four per cent of the planned new toilets in the past 11 months. Out of the total 24 wards in the city, only eight have witnessed work orders of some kind; 16 wards haven't got any construction orders.
The civic body, under its Slum Sanitation Plan, was supposed to build 16,703 toilets on existing 14,173 toilet seats, and an additional 6,071 toilets on identified, new locations. While proposals worth R422 crore for 22,774 toilets were passed in January, construction orders for only 266 new and 4,973 existing community toilets, which is merely 4 and 30 per cent of the aim, were issued.
In some places, the user-toilet ratio goes up to 100
While the Centre has pushed for toilets in every house under its Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the BMC has been unable to give permissions for Individual Household Latrines (IHL) citing unavailability of sewer lines in narrow lanes and dense localities. The BMC instead promised to build more community toilets within a year-and-a-half. The ideal user-toilet ratio prescribed by the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is 25, while the existing ratio in Mumbai's community toilets is 50. In some wards, it even goes up to 100.
While 16 wards do not have a construction order, two wards do not even have toilets planned. On the other hand, having a construction order also does not translate into construction beginning or being complete. For instance, in the E Ward, which comprises Byculla, three orders have been issued for new toilets. But no construction has started. "There is no timeframe to finish building each toilet. Nor does the BMC have a mechanism to monitor the progress or quality of work," said Supriya Sonar, an activist associated with the Right to Pee movement.
"In the case of existing toilets, the BMC provides an alternative and cannot demolish all toilets simultaneously. Construction of new toilets is much more challenging. While communities need toilets, nobody wants them in their backyard. There is a lot of resistance from the locals. Sometimes there are issues of connection to nearby sewerage lines," said Ashok Khaire, Deputy Municipal Commissioner of the Solid Waste Management department. Sonar claimed that the BMC does not engage in dialogue with locals. Residents fear leakages and unhygienic conditions. "When we speak to them, they agree to get the toilets built," she said.
No. of construction orders issued to replace old toilets
Time within which the community toilets were supposed to be built
All in the numbers
Total toilets sanctioned in January: 22,774
New construction in existing locations: 16,703
Purchase orders issued: 4,973 toilets (30%)
Toilets at new locations: 6,071
Purchase orders issued: 266 (4%)
Of the total 22,774 toilets, 7,200 were to be built in the M East Ward comprising Govandi and Mankhurd. As per official data, 46 old and dilapidated toilets are being rebuilt but activists are not happy with the pace and the people-participation module. Activists from the M East Ward will be meeting the Ward Officer on December 11 regarding the quality of toilets, the speed of work and most importantly, the process of appointing a Community Based Organisation (CBO) to maintain them. Activists have claimed that the BMC has asked contractors to form the CBOs, which they are doing by randomly taking signatures and appointing people. Activists say that randomly appointed people cannot ensure proper maintenance.
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