Mumbai: M-East Ward’s Unending Quest For Better Toilets

Mumbai: M-East Ward’s Unending Quest For Better Toilets

Despite BMC spending Rs 53.8 crore, 188 toilets continue to lack maintenance; women say that politicians give fake assurance during polls

Kamal MishraUpdated: Tuesday, March 12, 2024, 09:00 PM IST
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Around 35% of toilets in M-East ward were found to be non-functional in 2022 survey | Representational Image

Mumbai: Despite the BMC spending a whopping Rs53.8 crore across 188 public toilets dotting M-East ward, the locals, particularly women living in slums, continue to grapple with the basic necessity of clean and functional toilets. The startling revelation came to the fore during the Free Press Journal's ongoing 'Right to Pee' campaign.

The residents of M-East ward – comprising Mankhurd, Anushakti Nagar, Deonar, Cheetah Camp, and Shivaji Nagar – highlighted how basic sanitation rights have remained elusive for years, thanks to fake poll promises.

The dire situation was put into perspective by NGO Community Outreach Recognition and Opportunity. The social welfare group, which has been fighting for women's 'Right to Pee' for more than a decade, carried out a survey in 2022 to statistically understand the persistent issue.

The survey found a staggering 35% of toilets in M-East ward to be non-functional. The data, collected through a Google form between August and October 2022, puts focus on the plight of the residents and the challenges they face in accessing proper sanitation facilities.

Of the 188 toilets, comprising 3,587 seats, surveyed, a concerning 64 were found closed, underscoring the grim reality that despite efforts, the situation has not improved. Activist Rohini Kadam, who supervised the survey, lamented that despite numerous follow-ups, there has been no tangible change and that 17 toilets in Shivaji Nagar and nearby areas are still not working. The survey further found that the BMC spent Rs1.5 lakh per seat. However, the public toilets continue to lack proper maintenance, pointed out Kadam.

“The 'Right to Pee' remains an elusive right for many women in M-East ward, symbolising the broader challenges faced by marginalised communities in urban areas. Urgent action and a commitment to sustainable solutions are imperative to ensure the fundamental right to sanitation for all residents,” she said.

Savitri Kamble, a resident of Mankhurd, highlighted the high population of slum dwellers in M-East ward, who heavily rely on public toilets. During the elections, promises of better toilet facilities and improved maintenance systems are common in political manifestos.

However, such assurances are often forgotten once the elections conclude, she added. Shahin Bano, a resident of Govandi, asserted that though several governments changed, the struggle for basic facilities like washrooms persists in the ward. The lack of a robust maintenance system for existing toilet blocks exacerbates the issue, leaving residents in a perpetual state of inconvenience, she bemoaned.

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