At the annual Transform Maharashtra meet held in Mumbai on May 1, the first and crucial step towards a clean Maharashtra was taken after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis proposed to construct public toilets every few kilometres across the state.
The decision was taken after Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, who was present at the event to address a gathering of over 5,000 students, asked the CM Fadnavis to ensure that there are public toilets every 500m or a kilometre to discourage open defecation and help the citizens of the state. CM Fadnavis approved of the idea and said it will be implemented soon.
Speaking at the event, Kumar said the way phone booths were built at a fixed distance the state should propose a ‘toilet booth’ based on similar lines so people won’t have to suffer. He also propagated the idea of a toilet app that would give people the location of the nearest toilet.
Prohibiting open defecation and promoting sanitation hygiene also happens to be the actor’s upcoming film’s central theme.
The Transform Maharashtra initiative is a competition that invites solutions from college students to resolve challenges that Maharashtra is facing.
Mumbai’s toilet data
Earlier, actor Salman Khan was brought on board the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Open Defecation-Free (ODF) drive as its brand ambassador.
According to BMC statistics, there were over 117 major open defecation spots in city, mainly located across plots owned by government departments and agencies, which have been reduced to 21 in last two years following the drive.
In Mumbai, currently, the major open defecation spots are in Colaba, Bhandup, Chembur, Malad, Kurla and Andheri and the BMC plans to eradicate “this social evil” by building toilets.
However, to meet the dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Mumbai needs 1.28 lakh toilets. The Mumbai civic body plans to create this facility with an average of one toilet seat per 50 persons. However, there will still be a need of 46,000 toilets to reduce the gap. In past two-and-a-half years, BMC has constructed only 2,500 toilets.
There are about 12,000 public toilets in the city, some of which are a decade-old.
“Open defeaction is a huge problem in Mumbai. Toilet is the basic right of every citizen and in many parts of the city, especially at railway station premises there are no proper toilet facilities, due to which people opt for open defecation and often have to face a number of infectious disease,” said Dr Pratit Sambani, a General Physician.