Praja Foundation: BMC Didn’t Construct Even One Community Toilet in 2020

Praja Foundation: BMC Didn’t Construct Even One Community Toilet in 2020

A report by a Mumbai-based non-profit organization, Praja Foundation has found that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) did not build a single community toilet in 2020. 

While the civic body can be forgiven for focusing its efforts on fighting the coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth considering that around 42 per cent of the households across Mumbai don’t have access to a toilet on the premises while more than 94 per cent rely on community toilets located near them.

The data compiled by Praja Foundation shows that the civic body approved proposals valued at ₹422 crores in January 2019 for building 22,774 toilets within a year. Despite this target, the BMC only managed to complete 20 per cent of these projects even after two years. The foundation gathered the information through a Right To Information (RTI) petition. 

The report goes on to mention that the number of community and public toilets in 2021 is the same as it was last year. Moreover, 2020’s figures show that only one in four public toilets in the city are meant for women.

Director at Praja Foundation, Milind Mhaske said, “It was an unprecedented situation and we can say the BMC had kept the work aside for some time to concentrate on Covid-19 related work at that time, but the authorities should also keep in mind that in the long term, basic facilities like community toilets affect livelihoods. It also impacts the education and health level of society and we have to check our priorities now.”

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Supriya Sonar, an activist from the Right to Pee campaign said, “We understand and communicate with people that it is an unusual condition. They have started the work after seven months but it is going at a snail’s speed and will take decades if it goes at the same pace. The construction started after demolishing the old structure and building a temporary one. But now the life of these temporary structures has also come to an end.” 

Expectedly, civic officials are pointing towards the COVID-19 lockdowns for lagging behind on the construction of community toilets across Mumbai. 

Assistant Municipal Commissioner and Nodal Officer for the Swachh Bharat Mission, Kiran Dighavkar said, “Some of the toilets got completed this year. The work was stopped completely during the lockdown of the first wave — from April to October 2020. Even the labourers were shifted to build toilets for Covid-19 centres. But after October [2020], the work resumed and many toilet blocks are about to complete.”

As per Census data from the slums, there is one toilet seat for 42 men and 34 women which illustrates the struggles faced by people on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the Swachh Bharat Mission recommends one toilet seat for 35 men and 25 women. 

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