The Maharashtra Nature Park Society (MNPS) at Sion is a beautiful place, replete with greenery and different species of birds, but just step outside and you are greeted with the ugly sight of young and old slum dwellers using the to defecate, turning the entire footpath into a virtual open air toilet.
Located on the Sion-Bandra Link Road, the park has been facing this dilemma from the past six to seven years. Despite having a toilet in the vicinity, the locals instead of using it, choose to defecate just outside the nature park to save money causing environmental hazards and other health diseases claims the park’s authority.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Clean-Up marshals at times don’t turn up for days and the excreta piles up on the road emitting a malodorous stench. The excrement and urine if not cleaned can spread water-borne infections and other diseases.
“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.
According to Kubal, two water connections have been allotted by the BMC, one near the Nature Park and the other at the Dharavi Depot, but the water supply is used for washing cars and for bathing by the locals and mechanics in the vicinity.
Previously, MHADA had planned to build more toilets near the area but the plan never took shape as there is no proper sewage line in the vicinity and there is no connectivity for the removal of the night soil.
As for the redevelopment of the nature park, which is currently underway, the existing problem will be taken into consideration by the authorities. “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. If the BMC start charging them every time they dirty the area, they will stop. But these fellows usually finish off their task in the early morning, while the BMC cleaners come after 11. If we try to stop them they retaliate” said Kubal.
BMC’s G North Ward officer Devendra Jain expressed astonishment when he informed about the matter. “The toilets are not for show, we’ll see to it that they are used. I’ll deploy my clean-up marshals and try to prevent these people from dirtying the area” he stated.