The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has declared Mumbai free of open defecation but also decided not to take any responsibility for people defecating in the open in land parcels owned by other government agencies such as railways, in Aarey colony or on Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) land and Defense area in south Mumbai.
Civic chief Ajoy Mehta has written to railway authorities to deploy Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel to prevent open defecation on the railway premises.
With chances of criticism from the citizens over various spots in the city where open defecation still takes place, the civic chief wrote to the Central and Western Railways, informing them that open defecation was still taking place along the railway tracks, especially in Mahim, Bandra and Kurla.
Mehta, in his letter (copy of which HT has) on Thursday, has requested the authorities to construct public toilets on railway land as per the directives issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and also to deploy the RPF. The BMC too has deployed clean-up marshals at various spots that were identified as OD spots.
Before declaring the city OD free, the civic body on Wednesday had not only written to railway authorities but also to the salt commissioner’s office for permission to construct toilets on their premises, considering no response was received from these agencies in the past. In a recent controversy, it had come to light that Aarey authorities had denied the civic body permission to repair existing toilets. This repair-help was offered by actor Salman Khan, the official BMC brand ambassador for the campaign, through a civic official.
A senior civic official, involved with the process, said, “We have been seeking approvals from various agencies but there has been no response. We cannot wait for them as we have provided toilets or mobile toilets at all 118 open defecation spots identified by us. Further to ensure that people use these toilets, we have deployed clean-up marshals at these spots.”
As part of Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan, various civic authorities were directed to make their city open-defecation free. According to the process, the BMC had to self-declare itself open-defecation free before December 31, 2016, to earn points under the Swachha Bharat Abhiyaan. The civic body wrote to the urban development department of the state government declaring the city open-defecation free.
However, the civic body has failed to provide citizens with permanent public and community (toilets in the slums) toilets in the city. Two years back, the civic body had planned over 2,300 toilet seats but has managed to construct only 1,641. Further, in a hurry to declare the city open-defecation free, the civic body routed to installing 800 mobile toilet seats at about 95 locations and spending around Rs3 crore, in the last two months alone.