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Women can soon use washrooms at BMC establishments

Updated on: 06 February,2020 07:14 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Prajakta Kasale |

Municipal chief proposes entry for women at all civic offices and HQ; BMC has built only eight of 1,167 toilets it had promised in 2019

Women can soon use washrooms at BMC establishments

The proposal was sanctioned and Rs 422 crore was allotted for construction of public toilets in January 2019. Representation pic

Soon, if you're a woman in dire need of relieving yourself, you could rush to the nearest BMC ward office or any other civic establishment and head straight for the toilet there. You read right. After failing to construct community and public toilets as per plan, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will throw open its loos to all women.

The civic body has managed to construct only eight of 1,167 toilets it had promised to construct in January 2019. As it was unable to make good its promise, Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi has proposed to allow entry to women to relieve themselves in the toilets of BMC's offices and facilities.

This means women can pee in the toilets in the BMC's 24 ward offices, fire brigade stations, municipal markets, engineering hub, hospitals and dispensaries free of charge. But the plan will come into effect after the budget gets passed in the house in the BMC. While the decision is a good step for women, the entry into civic offices etc needs to be discussed considering security issues. Besides, the decision underlines the sorry state of affairs regarding toilets in the city. Despite its several plans, schemes and assurances, the BMC has not constructed even one per cent of the toilets as per last year's plan.

Toilet humour
In 2018, under a new plan to increase the number of toilet seats (as part of the 1,167 toilets), the civic body was supposed to build 16,703 toilet seats on the existing 14,173 toilet seats with another 6,071 toilet seats in new locations. The proposal was sanctioned and R422 crore was allotted for the work in January 2019. As per the official press release the toilets were to be built in the next 12 months. But after 12 months, the civic body has managed to build merely 159 toilet seats. As per the latest report in January, BMC has built two toilets in R north ward (Dahisar), two toilets in L ward (Kurla and Chembur) and four toilets in S ward (Bhandup). The BMC has issued a work order for 347 of the 1,167 proposed toilets. While the work may be in progress, the snail's pace means it will take another four to five years to complete the task.

Pee off
"There was a circular two years ago regarding allowing women to use toilets in government offices, but it wasn't implemented. Now it is mentioned in the budget," said Mumtaj Shaikh, an activist with the Right to Pee movement. "The construction of public toilets is going on at very slow speed. Many of them will be reconstructed on the same spots and hence the earlier toilets have been demolished, adding to the woes of residents, especially women," said Shaikh.

"It is a welcome step from the BMC, but even the toilets in the BMC premises are not clean," said Nandita Shah, co-director of Akshara Centre. She added that the permission should not affect the construction of more public toilets and their maintenance. She also pointed out the security issue and the lengthy process to enter the offices due to security issues which could restrict women from using the facility.

Rs 422 cr
Amount allocated to build the toilets

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