At least 800 people in a slum pocket of Mumbai’s M-East ward, which comprises the Mankhurd and Shivaji Nagar localities, still defecate in the open. Hundreds of others in the area use dirty, dilapidated and dangerous toilets, a study of sanitation and toilet facilities in the area has found.
The report was presented Friday at a workshop organised by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the ‘transforming M-ward’ project members of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
The survey, conducted by TISS, highlighted that six slum pockets in the area did not have a single toilet.
According to the report, the area under the ward currently needs a total of 14,704 toilet seats, based on the Swachh Bharat mission guidelines, mandating that one toilet seat is required for every 35 men and one for every 25 women.
The situation in Mankhurd is the worst with number of people per toilet seat exceeding 80. Transit camp A has 170 people per toilet seat, transit camp B has 85, Jyotirling Nagar and Ambedkar Nagar have 100 people per seat, Maharashtra Nagar has 151 and Mandala has 191. In the area, 800 people defecate in the open.
Professor Amita Bhide, director of the ‘transforming M-ward’ project, said, “It is imperative to get CSR investment in sanitation as a part of companies’ overall commitment to societies in which they are operating…. Also, the approach to sanitation has to move beyond construction and encompass the engagement of communities to ensure the sustainability of toilets.”
Earlier, aiming to put an end to open defecation in the state, the urban development department (UDD) had come up with Swachha Maharashtra Abhiyan on the lines of Swachha Bharat Abhiyan. In May, the government had issued new guidelines for cleanliness and sanitation under the abhiyan. For the first time, the state government had admitted that 29 per cent of those living in urban areas did not have access to toilets. It had also recognised the practice of manual scavenging in the state and assured rehabilitation of conservancy workers. According to the UDD, out of the 29 per cent people who do not have toilets at their homes, 73 per cent use public toilets and 27 per cent defecate openly.
Kiran Dighavkar, assistant commissioner, M-East ward, MCGM, said, “The Maharashtra Nagar accident which happened in mid-February, 2015, was an eye opener for us and we conducted a structural audit of these toilets and closed 54 dilapidated toilets immediately. We urge the corporates to engage and participate in this mission. We have also simplified the procedures and have adopted a single door approach wherein we will grant permission for toilets within 8 days of application.” In Maharashtra Nagar at Mankhurd, a woman had landed in a septic tank after the door of a toilet caved in and died. The BMC has identified 54 such toilets across the ward which has to be shut down for their dilapidated status.