58% of slum children defecate in open: Study

Mumbai,Geeta Desai: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is far from making the city free from open defecation as a study — conducted by the civic body and IIPS — revealed that around 58 per cent of the slum children defecate in the open and more than 60 per cent of WC seats are either broken or are not usable.

Image: Wikipedia

The issue along with the findings from the survey was discussed in the BMC’s general body meeting on Friday. Ashraf Azmi, Samajwadi Party corporator, raised the issue of lack of toilets in the city and urged the municipal corporation to take up remedial measures at the earliest.

Speaking during the meeting, Azmi quoted the findings of a survey which revealed that with an average waiting time of 40 minutes in the morning, most slumdwellers skip community toilets and defecate in the open.
“There is only one toilet seat per 1,800 women and one toilet seat for 200 men. How do you expect people not to defecate in the open when there is no facility?” asked Azmi.

The report also shows that 57.9 per cent of the population in slums have admitted to disposing children faeces in drains or passageways. While 50 per cent of population of slumdwellers in surveyed wards were Maharashtrians, 25.6 per cent were from Uttar Pradesh.

Azmi, giving details of the study, said that nearly 78 per cent of slum toilets do not have water and 58 per cent lack electricity. Around 80 per cent of untreated sewage is released directly into the sea and 60 per cent of septic tanks are not maintained at all.

“The study revealed that F North Ward (Matunga–Sion) has 201 toilets and only 2 toilets have electricity. And none of the 135 toilets have water connections,” he said.

However, the civic administration said that the BMC was committed to make the city free of open defecation by 2019. “There are 17,542 toilets in the city out of which 5,200 are for women. The BMC has allocated Rs75 crore for public toilets. However, until now BMC has spent Rs 102 crore for toilets in the city.

“In the last two years the BMC has constructed 2,577 toilet seats and construction of another 1,372 toilets seats is in progress. Advertisements are given for construction of new toilets and the process is in the last stages. The BMC has also kept provision of Rs102 crore for repairs of the public toilets,” said Sanjay Mukherjee, additional municipal commissioner.

Bio-toilets still a distant dream
BMC’s ambitious plans of providing bio-toilets in the city has fallen flat. Though the civic administration has mega plans to start the project and have also kept provisions for the same, no department has any idea about who will release the funds.

Giving example of Haji Babu Road project, BJP corporator from Malad Vinod Shelar said that the cost of project was Rs20 crore and BMC agreed to give the money. “But since the past eight months there is no clarity as to which department will execute the plan. Now, the financial year is also coming to an end and the process will have to be started all over again,” said Shelar.