India, Mumbai: tackling open defecation in Dharavi

The municipal corporation of Mumbai (BMC) is finally taking action, after seven years, to stop Dharavi slum dwellers from using the Maharashtra Nature Park Society (MNPS) footpath as an open toilet.

Despite having a toilet in the vicinity, locals would defecate there early in the morning to save money. BMC sanitation workers would not turn up for days at a time to clean up the mess.

“The slums are on the opposite side of the park, while the toilet is near the park. There are many toilets constructed near the slums, but they don’t want to pay and use them,” said Avinash Kubal, director, MNPS. […] “This is a VIP road, and is used for commuting to airport and other cities. The sight of people and children defecating on the street is not very pleasant”.

Sanitation in Dharavi. Photo: India in Images

The Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority (MHADA) had cancelled earlier plans to build more toilets near the park because there no sewage pipeline in the vicinity.

SPARC Community toilets in Dharavi. Photo: Matias Echanove, Dharavi Wikispaces

After numerous complaints, the BMC now posts several guards to patrol the area and slap fines on perpetrators.

Residents and park officials were also successful in getting the BMC to deploy mini-trucks to regularly remove garbage that accumulated outside the park near the Dharavi bus stop.

Dharavi is a vast slum situated between the international airport and the Mumbai financial district and home to almost 1 million people. It is estimated that there is 1 toilet for every 1,440 people [1]. Dharavi features prominently in the 2008 Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire, with its now famous “shit dive” opening scene.

[1] UNDP (2006). Human development report 2006 : beyond scarcity : power, poverty and the global crisis. P. 37.

Source: Afternoon, 28 Jun 2011 ; Adnan Attarwala, Afternoon, 02 Oct 2010


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