Mumbai: Opposition waters down BMC's new Rs 323 cr lava(s)tory

As the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) allocated Rs 323 crore towards building 20,000 new public/common toilets in budget 2021-22, the Opposition leaders have asked the civic administration to first complete the earlier target. The civic body cleared proposals worth Rs 422 crores in January 2019 for 22,770 toilets across Mumbai, of which only 20 per cent were completed till August- September 2020.

In January 2019 BMC cleared the proposals of 22,770 toilets in Mumbai, which were expected to be completed within 12 months, BMC could complete only 4,596 of the total target. The project’s aim was to bring down the user-toilet ratio in community / public toilets.

"The proposed toilet seats under the Slum Sanitation Programme are 22,774 out of which 8,637 are new constructions and 14,137 are reconstruction of old toilet seats. Our target before December 31, 2021 is to achieve 20,301 seats out of which 4,596 seats are already completed and another 15,705 are under construction. These toilets comprise urinals for kids, seats of western toilets for senior citizens and physically challenged. Rain water harvesting, lighting arrangement, wash basin, dustbins for dry waste, wet waste and sanitary pads, etc will be provided. These toilets will be maintained with hygiene and also ensure privacy, dignity and safety to the users," said BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal.

Under the Slum Sanitation Plan, the BMC was supposed to build 16,703 toilets on existing 14,173 toilet seats and an additional 6,071 toilets on new locations. After two years, the BMC has managed to complete only 4,596 toilets. BMC has now proposed to provide Gender Sensitive Toilets facility across Mumbai. The civic body also intends to construct nearly 108 community toilets to cater the floating public other than slums.

A majority of the public toilets in the city are filthy and in a sorry state. In February 2018, a portion of a toilet block collapsed in Mankhurd killing three people. This prompted the civic body to conduct a structural audit of public toilet blocks under BMC in all the 24 wards. The civic body then chalked out a plan to pull down old toilets and re-build them with new designs to prevent mishaps. However, many toilets await repair/ rebuilding as claimed by the civic body.

Currently, there are a total of 87,422 toilet seats in 7,212 public toilets across Mumbai. To achieve the Open Defecation Free (ODF) ++ status under the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' the BMC will have to complete the construction of these 22,774 toilet seats 1,168 community / public toilets within its limits under 'Contract Lot-11 (R)' scheme.

“Even though we have identified new locations for toilet blocks, people of the area oppose the project as no one wants a toilet around their houses. This has led to delay in the work,” said a BMC official.

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