Mumbai's crumbling toilets pose health, safety risks

Seetha Gopalakrishnan
Monday, February 20, 2017 - 12:18

Crumbling public sanitation infrastructure poses huge existential threat in Mumbai slums

Following the death of three residents, after a toilet block collapsed in one of the Mumbai’s slums, the focus has shifted back to the crumbling state of public sanitation infrastructure in the city and the existential threats posed by this. With population density skyrocketing, inadequate public amenities, especially in slums located in areas like Mankhurd, Shivaji Nagar, Govandi and Vashi Naka where civic services are most deficient, pose a serious threat to public health and safety. Most of the slums are devoid of water and sanitation facilities despite serious population growth over the last 15 years. An independent sanitation survey reveals that 78 percent of community toilets in the city’s slums lack water supply and numerous units lack basic safety features such as doors and locks.

Chhattisgarh villagers yet to receive SBM subsidy for constructing toilets

After constructing toilets using their savings, residents of many Chattisgarh villages are yet to receive the subsidy promised for latrine construction under the Swachh Bharat Mission. Following heavy pressure from the district and local administration, from public shaming to open threats, the villagers took up construction. Since the government does not release the total subsidy amount before the construction is complete, the villagers were forced to cough up over Rs 15,000 in many cases for building toilets. While the officials agree that in most cases it is the poorest of poor who were forced to construct latrines despite their financial situation, they are helpless due to strict norms.

Haryana, Punjab and HP villages stick to the 'no toilet, no bride' pledge

In a radical bid to inculcate safe and hygienic sanitation practices, the residents of 110 villages across the states of Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have promised to abide by the pledge--no toilet, no bride. Villagers have sworn to not marry their daughters into homes without latrines in addition to banning the consumption of liquor to put a check on crimes against women. Cutting expenses borne by the bride’s family during weddings was among key issues discussed at the panchayat which was attended by over 1200 villagers near Gurgaon, Haryana.

Puducherry manages just 1,774 household toilets

The union territory of Puducherry is faced with a seriously uphill task of becoming open defecation free by October this year. The administration has managed to build just 1,774 household latrines against the set target of constructing 45,989 units across Villianur, Ariyankuppam, and Karaikal blocks. Work orders for the construction of around 8,282 twin-pit toilets have been issued. Despite the progress, officials agree that the UT is most likely to miss its ODF deadline as over 90 percent of the construction remains to be completed. The delay in operational issues such as the receipt and disbursal of funds have been cited as some of the reasons for the sluggish progress in the UT.

Bhubaneswar makes waste segregation mandatory from April 1

In a bid to mitigate the city’s garbage woes, Bhubaneswar municipal corporation has decided to make segregation and decentralised management of solid waste mandatory for residents and businesses including hotels, hospitals and malls. Waste segregation will become mandatory in the city from April 1. Bulk waste generators have been identified and notices have been sent to establish appropriate segregation and handling facilities. Businesses are expected to be slapped with fines and even risk having their licences cancelled for non-compliance. The corporation is also expected to slap fines of Rs 100 to Rs 250 on residents for polluting their neighbourhood in accordance with the recently laid down Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
 
This is a roundup of important sanitation related news published between February 11 and 17, 2016.
Lead image courtesy: The New York Times

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