In a move that might raise a stink, the Shiv Sena wants the civic body to carve out space from footpaths and open spaces meant for recreation to construct public toilets. The party, which is a member of the combine that is in majority at the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), put forth this demand on Tuesday.
The demand was made by Sena corporator and the public health committee chairman Rajul Patel, in a meeting with the additional municipal commissioner (city) Mohan Adtani. Adtani is in charge of the Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project, whose brief includes building more public toilets in the city.
“Thousands use open spaces across the city every day. Sanitation facilities are essential, especially for women and senior citizens,” Patel said. Civic rules, however, do not permit construction of toilets in open spaces.
Shivaji Park resident and activist Ashok Rawat, who opposed the construction of a five-star toilet that the BMC built at the Shivaji Park ground, said, “No construction has ever been permitted on open spaces. However, the BMC, through administrative circulars, has been trying to circumvent this by making exceptions.”
Nayana Kathpalia, co-convenor of Citispace, feared that toilets on open spaces would result in unpleasant smells and sounds. “There is a genuine need for toilets. But going by the civic body’s reputation, these toilets would remain filthy and smell bad and thus, defeat the whole point of having come to an open space. The BMC needs to think of an out-of-the-box solution,” she said.
However, Sena corporator and law committee chairman Rajeev Chaugule, whose plans of building a toilet in an playground in Tilak Nagar faced opposition from locals, said that the demand deserved to be considered.
“Around 1,200 people visit this ground for morning walks, of which around 70% are diabetic and need to frequently use the toilets. The toilets are necessary, but the BMC must ensure that they are maintained well.”
Adtani remained unavailable for comment.