Water supply in Mumbai not equitable: Praja Foundation

Mumbai: In a time when Mumbai continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, NGO Praja Foundation while commending the Mumbai civic body's efforts in battling the crisis, has pointed how poor civic amenities and slow redressal system still continues to haunt the city.

The organisation on Tuesday launched their white paper 'Status of civic issues in Mumbai- 2021," highlighting civic issues the city is grappling with. The report was compiled based on data obtained through the Right to Information Act, 2005 for all 24 wards.

The report states that the water supply in Mumbai is still not equitable leading to some areas getting more water supply while many others struggle to get the basic amount of water needed. Moreover, the white paper alleges that there is a disparity in water supply in slum households and non-slum households.

According to the Praja Foundation, when it comes to water supply, Mumbai overall receives an average of 188 lpcd (litres per capita per day), which is higher than the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms of 135 lpcd. Of this, the non-slum areas receive 150 lpcd (at Rs 19.44 per month) whereas the slum areas receive only 45 lpcd (at Rs 4.85 per month), through metered connections.

"People in the slums to access the remaining need of water, have to rely on water tankers and other sources, which approximately costs them Rs. 500-550 per month. If BMC is able to provide 135 lpcd (as per the BIS norms) of water supply to the slum population through metered connection then, the cost will be as low as Rs 14.54 per month. Implementing 100 percent metered water connection in slums would allow them to access a required quantity of water at just Rs 14.54 per month as compared to Rs 500-550 they are currently paying.”, said Milind Mhaske, Director, Praja Foundation.

Meanwhile, as against the BMC's promise in 2019 to build an equal number of toilets for women, the white paper has claimed that only 1 out of 4 public toilet seats are for females as of December 2020. The BMC in 2019 announced that it will build 22,774 new toilets by 2020 and 50 percent or more that is 11,000 toilets will be available for women.

In its white paper, Praja Foundation has highlighted that the total number of toilet seats for ladies has decreased by 3 percent i.e. 3,237 in 2018 to 3,146 in 2020. Similarly, for men too, the number has decreased by 7 percent from 9,646 to 8,927 in 2020. Whereas, the toilets for disabled persons have increased by 83 percent in 2020.

Further Praja Foundation pointed out that against BMC's claims of 100 per cent door-to-door collection of waste as of 2019-20 still, 34% of all Solid Waste Management complaints were related to the garbage not being collected in 2020.

“During BMC's COVID-19 management, three key areas of successes came to light, that can be carried forward in post-pandemic rebuilding and further improve the services at ward level. First, decentralisation of various functions at the local level for inclusive decision making and better quality of services. This can, secondly, be achieved through even more extensive use of technology, which the BMC has previously showcased an inclination for (Livestreaming budgets, online ward committee meetings and so on). Thirdly, BMC should collaborate with various stakeholders in both the public and private sector to find innovative solutions to the city’s growth. This will not only help BMC in providing basic day to day services efficiently but also in becoming a future-ready city.”, concluded Nitai Mehta, Trustee Praja Foundation.

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