Norwegian ex-junkies build women's toilet in Mumbai

Updated: Feb 03, 2018, 16:13 IST | IANS

A swank new ladies toilet complex, built by a group of Norwegian ex-junkies and former convicts, including at least five women, became operational near Mumbai Central station in Mumbai on Saturday

Representational picture

A swank new ladies toilet complex, built by a group of Norwegian ex-junkies and former convicts, including at least five women, became operational near Mumbai Central station in Mumbai on Saturday, officials said. The toilet was formally inaugurated on Friday by Yuva Sena leader Aditya Uddhav Thackeray in the presence of Mumbai Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, Norwegian Consul General in Mumbai Ann Ollestad, Tarini Jindal-Handa of JSW which co-sponsored the project and other prominent personalities.

The all-women's facility comprises seven toilet blocks, a child-feeding enclosure, a changing room and a sanitary napkin dispenser, all constructed at a cost of around Rs 20 lakh ($31,000).

The entire complex built by a 15-member group, called 'Back In The Ring' (BITR) led by Alexander Medin, a Norwegian Yoga instructor, started work on it in February 2017 and it was completed within a few months.

The Norwegian nationals, most of them former junkies and ex-convicts who later became ardent followers of Yoga, took up the challenge as part of their 'Karmayoga' in view of the sorry state of civic amenities for Mumbai women, especially those who commute long distances and hours from home to work daily.

Armed with funds from a Norwegian NGO, BITR and the Mumbai-based steel giant, JSW Group, the BITR completed the project and handed it over to the local authorities for running and maintenance.

Ollestad remarked that while India's future is all about 'empowering women', during her travel around this country, she noticed the need for sanitation and toilet facilities for women.

Mahadeshwar said though Mumbai is building mega-projects like coastal roads, highways, bridges, etc, there is a dire need for women's toilets and facilities like these (BITR toilet) will bring a smile on the faces of young women.

The BITR has completed similar projects in Karnataka and Goa during their previous tours in India with plans to come back for more such social service initiatives. BITR conducts free Yoga classes and organises similar community service projects for ex-drug addicts or former convicts as part of the process to reform them and re-enter the social mainstream.

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