For 30-year-old Geeta Devi (name changed)-who resides in the Jai Bajrang Nagar area of Bhayandar going to a toilet every morning has become an ordeal. Without a toilet at home, her only option was the lone community toilet block of the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) located near her slum cluster. Since the MBMC demolished the blocks on 3, July, she and around 1200 others have been forced to squat in the open-on a daily basis for the past more than a month.
This at a time when the civic administration claims to have won accolades for cleanliness and being tagged as open defecation free (ODF) region by spending crores of rupees towards construction and maintenance of community toilets under the much hyped Swachh Bharat Mission. The toilet blocks were razed as the land on which it stood was amongst 1036 hectares which fell under the reserved forest area. Stung by MBMC’s failure in providing alternate facilities, the citizens of the area under the aegis of the local Congress unit led by Deep Kakde launched “Satyagraha for Toilet” - an agitation in the form of indefinite hunger strike in Bhayandar on Wednesday.
“The blocks were razed after the land was declared as a forest area. Until the forest or district officials issue a nod, we are helpless.” said a civic officer requesting anonymity. “It’s been more than a month now, since the toilet blocks were razed. Neither a new block has been arranged, nor has a mobile toilet been placed, leaving no other option for the citizens but to defecate in the open. Imagine the plight of women.
The MBMC and Center’s Swachhta mission- both stand exposed.” said Kakde. In its recent letter to the mangrove cell, the MBMC had sought exclusion of some land parcels from the forest area to ensure continuance of existing facilities like- public toilets, which cater to the needs of citizens living in pre 2000 tenements and slum-clusters.Sr citizen goes on indefinite hunger strike to protest MBMC’s apathy
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