Death-trap toilets: the hidden dangers of Mumbai’s poorest slums. The Guardian, February 27, 2017.
Poorly-constructed toilet blocks have led to the deaths of seven people in three months, but politicians are yet to act on their promises for change
On the morning of 4 February, Harish Tikedar, Ganesh Soni, and Mohammed Isafil Ansari waited in a queue to use the community toilet in the Indira Nagar slum in eastern Mumbai. All of a sudden the floor collapsed, plunging Tikedar, Soni and Ansari into the septic tank 15-feet below.
Two others who also fell – Sirajjudin Turat and Ramakant Kanojia – managed to hold on to the sides until they were rescued.
“I was submerged up to my shoulders in the slush,” says Turat. “I could feel it pulling me down but somehow held on to a slab. Then some people pulled me up and I passed out.”
The five men who were pulled out were unrecognisable, covered in faeces. They were all taken to a nearby hospital but Tikedar, Soni and Ansari did not survive.
In Mumbai’s slums, the simple act of relieving oneself is fraught with danger, especially in the slums of M-East ward where population density is high, and the few public amenities are crumbling.
M-East is the poorest and most deficient in civic services of Mumbai’s 24 administrative wards. It has expanded over the last 15 years but has remained on the periphery of the city’s consciousness and governance systems. The differences between the civic amenities available in the smattering of middle-class apartment blocks and the slums, which dominate M-East, are stark.
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