‘50% residents of most Thane slums don’t have access to individual toilets’
Although the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) last week claimed that the city is in the Open Defecation Free (ODF)++ category, an ongoing survey of the civic body, in association with a private agency, has revealed that 50% of the population in most slums do not have access to individual toilets. The survey, undertaken since 2016, has so far covered 40,000 families in 28 slum clusters, and flagged the low toilet-per-person ratio and the abysmal condition of community toilets.
There are 9.80 lakh people residing in 252 slum clusters in the city.
According to the survey, conducted by TMC along with Shelter Associates, in some slums such as Ganesh Nagar, there is one toilet for every 300 persons, which means that a person may be able to use the washroom once in 15 days.
Last week, TMC had tweeted that the city is in ODF++ category, which means that apart from being open defecation-free, Thane also has clean toilets. However, the results of the survey, which focuses on basic amenities such as drainage, toilets, roads and water supply, among others, paint a different picture.
“The survey has covered 28 slum clusters and 40,000 families. It is being conducted to find out the status of existing civic amenities in slums and the improvement required. We can detect which slums lack which amenities and provide the same,” said Sandeep Malvi, deputy municipal commissioner, TMC.
A TMC official said the toilet-per-person ratio is poor in most slums. “Only 20 to 50% people in most slums have access to individual toilets. In some slums, the ratio is one toilet for every 200 to 300 persons, which means a man can use the toilet merely once a week or a fortnight.” He said the condition of community toilets, too, was pathetic. “Most of the toilets are unclean, while the seats are broken or choked,” he said.
The survey revealed that most of the slums also do not have proper drainage lines or a solid waste management system, leading to littering everywhere and choked drains.
Meanwhile, activists in the city slammed the TMC for claiming that Thane is open defecation-free. Nishant Bangera, founder of Muse Foundation, who works to promote good menstrual health practices in the city, said, “We have come across several community toilets built by TMC in Thane through our surveys. These toilets are built by TMC and maintained by contractors. Not one community toilet was found to be clean, accessible or comprehensively equipped. Before rejoicing about all the toilets being clean and geo-tagged, TMC must go and check the toilets in Kopri, Cidco, Banjara Basti, Rambaug and Shastri Nagar.”
Bangera said the corporation should survey all the toilets it has built and see if they are being maintained well as most of them are littered and dirty.
However, an official from the solid waste department claimed that the work of constructing toilets is an ongoing process and open defecation has reduced to a large extent in the past three years. “We are constructing urban restrooms and deluxe air conditioned washrooms at most prime junctions in the city. Most of the slums also have proper community toilets or individual toilets now. The condition of open defecation has improved a lot in the past three years,” the official said.