For 35-year-old Ram Kripal (name changed), who resides in the Ganesh Dewal Nagar area of Bhayandar, going to a toilet every morning has become an ordeal. Without a toilet at home, his only option was the community toilet blocks of the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) located near his slum cluster. Since, the toilets are in a run-down state lacking water, cleanliness and hygiene, he and most of his neighbours are forced to squat in the open— on a daily basis.
Thanks to the apathetic attitude of the sanitation department Ram Kripal is not alone, hundreds of residents especially those living in slum clusters and rural areas of the twin-city are facing a similar situation as most of the blocks are in a sorry state.
This at a time when the civic administration claims to have won accolades for cleanliness and being tagged as open defecation free (ODF) region by spending crores of rupees towards construction and maintenance of community toilets under the central governments much hyped Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).
“With no water flush system and lack of proper cleanliness, most of the toilets are filthy. Citizens pay taxes and this is what they get in return. How can the city transform into a zero defecation zone when the Swachhta mission has lost its direction,” questioned local municipal corporator Adv. Ravi Vyas of the BJP which single-handedly rules the MBMC.
The MBMC has recently awarded a multi-crore contract to a private agency for upkeep and day to day maintenance of public toilets. Apart from portable pay-to-use toilets, there are more than 177 Community Toilet Complexes (CTC) comprising around 3,500 toilet seats which have been constructed by MBMC’s public works department (PWD) in the various parts of the twin-city.
The sanitation department shoulders the responsibility of supervising the toilet blocks. "With no water flush system and lack of proper cleanliness, most of the toilets are filthy,” complained a resident.
In another startling revelation, the contractor who was deployed for care-taking one of the multi-storey public toilets in Bhayandar (west) allegedly leased out the rooms by accepting Rs 10,000.
“While inspecting the toilet block, we noticed a family staying in the room built atop the structure. When asked the woman said the contractor had taken Rs 10,000 to allow her family to live here. I immediately recorded her statement and informed the civic chief,” said corporator Daroga Pandey. “It’s a serious issue. Action will be taken against the contractor,” said a senior MBMC officer.