Bollywood actor Salman Khan was officially appointed as a brand ambassador for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) campaign against open defecation in the city. On Saturday, Khan met civic chief Ajoy Mehta and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, and donated five mobile toilets, each with six seats, to the BMC. Mehta and Khan urged citizens to participate in the campaign and use toilets instead of defecating in the open. Khan said, “It (open defection) is not at all cool.”
Khan said, “People doing it (defecation) in the open is a bad visual... After learning about the BMC’s initiative, I wanted to contribute to the city where I live. We are the ones who litter, not ragpickers, and we have to stop doing this to keep our city clean. I urge the citizens to use and maintain these toilets. After using a toilet, leave it clean so others can use it too.”
Salman Khan was roped in for the campaign because of an underwhelming response to the Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) scheme, which mandated a grant of Rs5,000 to each household for constructing toilets, civic sources said. In addition, the BMC has managed to provide only 1,276 community-toilet seats (in slums) and 200 public toilet seats in the past two years. Two years after identifying 118 locations where open defecation took place, the BMC is still to rid 21 areas of the practice owing to lack of mobile or permanent toilets.
Mehta assured 24X7 water and electric supply for toilets. “I have asked ward officers to make sure water and electricity supply is in place. We will also provide mobile toilets for areas under the Coastal Regulation Zone.”
A presentation on the initiative was shown to Khan and Thackeray who were informed that 22,000 sanitation workers of the solid waste management department are working to make the city clean. The actor urged citizens to volunteer towards this cause. A short film starring Khan will be shot as part of the awareness campaign. Mehta said one of the mobile toilets provided by Khan has already been placed at Macchimar Nagar in Colaba.