To address the need for more public toilets to make Mumbai open defecation-free (ODF), the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will construct over 18,000 public toilet blocks in 2018. The civic body has decided to build two and three-storey toilets to overcome space shortage. The BMC is planning to complete the tender process by the end of this year and start giving work orders by January 15, 2018.
The estimated cost of constructing the 18,818 toilet blocks is Rs 376 crore. The civic body will also pull down existing 11,170 toilets and make 15,774 new ones in their place using improved design. “The city will get an additional 4,604 toilet blocks in place of the old ones,” said an official. The remaining 3,044 toilet blocks will be built from scratch.
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, “To overcome the shortage of space, we have decided to construct multi-storey toilets…which will increase the number of toilet seats.”
The BMC will form a special cell to be headed by the chief engineer (Slum Sanitation Programme) to carry out the construction of these multi-storey toilets. Wherever it is not possible to connect the toilet to sewer lines, the BMC will build septic tanks. These multi-storey toilet blocks will have a separate section for children and physically challenged people.
“The tenders for construction of these multi-storey toilets will be floated soon. After the bidder is finalised, the order to start work will be given by January 2018,” said an official.
In order to further the Central government’s ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, Mumbai requires 1.28 lakh toilet seats. According to an estimate, the BMC aims to have an average of one toilet seat per 50 people. While the city requires 46,000 toilets to fill the gap, the civic body has been able to construct only 2,500 in the last two-and-a-half years.
The city currently has nearly 12,000 public toilets, and most of them are over a decade old.
Earlier, the Quality Council of India, a government regulator, had certified the financial capital as ODF in 2016 and again in 2017, prompting activists and residents to be up in arms. According to them, open defecation is neither rare, nor limited to certain areas till date, and that the city has a long way to go before it is ODF.