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IS NAVI MUMBAI CHANGING FROM KNOWLEDGE CITY TO TOILET CITY? – THAT’S OUR WEEKEND EXPOSE

toilet1The NMMC has recently floated 28 proposals for construction of new toilets. 13 of these were approved in a recent Standing Committee meet without a single word of debate or discussions. When NMTV News surveyed the areas where the toilets are coming up, there were some shocking details that came to light, which indicate how toilets too have become an avenue for scam-making to drain public funds for the nexus of corporators-contractors and officials. Locals who spoke to NMTV News, mocked at NMMC stating that if the corporation continued making toilets, most of which do not serve any purpose then soon the city’s identity would change from knowledge city to toilet city. The NMMC has very recently approved 28 proposals to construct public toilets and urinals in Navi Mumbai, 13 of which were approved in one of the recent Standing Committee meets. These 13 proposals to make public toilets and urinals for Rs. 2 Crore 34 Lacs 42 Thousand 209 was approved in a couple of minutes without one word of debate or discussion by any member of the Standing Committee. After this Standing Committee meet NMTV News did a survey of the locations where NMMC has proposed the new toilets under its toilet vision and this survey uncovered a scam in the name of public toilets. * NMTV EXPOSE – TOILET SITE 1 Just how corrupt has the NMMC system stooped to is seen in the corporation’s proposal to make a toilet in Sector 17, Vashi ahead of the subway. In a time period of 5 months NMMC has awarded the tender for building the toilet here to M/s Saideep Construction for Rs. 13, 33, 208. However, a visit shows that the spot for the proposed toilet lies at center of three plush malls, one hotel and Vashi Railway Station – all public places that have public toilets on one side and the posh Sector 17 on the other side. It makes one wonder why NMMC wants to build a toilet at such a spot? Well, it didn’t take us long to find the answer – adjacent to the proposed toilet spot is a recently established illegal settlement of hutments. Locals of the hutments did not hesitate to inform NMTV News that they are an illegal settlement, that the local corporator of the area Dashrath Bhagat had allegedly pressurized NMMC to not demolish the illegal hutments And that the local corporator has also allegedly promised to enroll them on the voters list. So clearly, the proposed toilet at the cost of over Rs. 13 lakhs of public funds is being built for the coming elections to facilitate the vote bank of a corporator in the form of the illegal settlement in Sector 30, Vashi. * NMTV EXPOSE – TOILET SITE 2 Our next stop was Kopri Village and Sector 12, Vashi. NMMC has planned to construct a urinal close to the Kopri Petrol Pump that has Sector 12 Vashi on one side and Kopri village on the other side. The tender to construct the urinal has been given to Saideep Construction for Rs. 13, 22, 190. Our first stop was Kopri. What came as a shock at Kopri was that it has two existing toilet blocks and one G+2 storeyed toilet under construction. And now a fourth one has been approved by the NMMC Standing Committee. No points for guessing that locals unanimously voiced that there was no need of another toilet or urinal in Kopri and that the new proposed urinal would mean 13 lakhs of public funds going down the drain. And it isn’t just locals of Kopri but even residents of the very posh Sector 12, Vashi who say that there is no demand for a urinal in their area. * NMTV EXPOSE – TOILET SITE 3 And now take a look at the reality of Koperkhairane village where NMMC has awarded the contract of breaking the existing 8 seater public toilet and building a new 18 seater public toilet to Om Enterprises for Rs. 26, 62, 652. Over here too, NMMC is building a toilet where the demand is very less instead of building a toilet at the location where the demand is more. These visuals need no explanation of the inconvenience that all, especially women and children must be facing. But instead of using public funds to reconstruct these toilet blocks in Koperkhairane village, NMMC has planned to reconstruct this toilet structure that could have been done away with only repairs and maintenance. * NMTV EXPOSE -TOILET SITE 4 After this, NMTV News went to MAFCO Market at Sector 18, Turbhe where NMMC has planned to construct a urinal in front of Mathadi Bhavan. The tender given to construct the toilet has been given to Swastik Infralogics for Rs. 21, 81, 614. Even here, there is a well maintained public toilet in the same area where NMMC has proposed a new toilet. * NMTV EXPOSE -TOILET SITE 5 At Turbhe node, Ambedkar Nagar’s Nilam Company, NMMC has awarded the tender of a 16 seater public toilet to J K Enterprises for Rs. 26, 03, 113. The area already has an existing toilet that only requires maintenance. * NMTV EXPOSE -TOILET SITE 6 At Sector 21, Nerul NMMC has awarded the contract to construct a toilet close to Shankarcharya Garden and Sector 48, Nerul to Patil Enterprises for Rs. 12, 78, 117. NMMC Belapur Ward officer says that there is demand for a toilet But the posh locality suggest otherwise. * NMTV EXPOSE -TOILET SITE 7 At Belapur Ward, NMMC has awarded the contract to build a public toilet in front of the NMMC office to Patil Enterprises for Rs. 19, 83, 286. Locals opined that a toilet was not needed at the location that most of the times is deserted. * NMTV EXPOSE -TOILET SITE 8 And now take a look at how despite having a toilet at the CBD Bus Depot, NMMC has built this toilet across the same bus depot road that residents again say is waste of public money. At every location where NMTV News did a survey, locals unanimously voiced that instead of constructing and spending money on new toilets, NMMC should draft a successful maintenance policy first. Locals opined that instead of constructing and spending money on new toilets, NMMC should draft a successful maintenance policy first. Residents say that in the name of toilet vision, massive corruption is taking place in NMMC that is causing wastage of public funds. What’s more concerning is that the corrupt practices of NMMC have converted most public toilets as a den for illegal activities. After our survey, we met the NMMC Addtl. City Engineer Surendra Patil – whose department is responsible for studying the locations where toilets are being built and making of the toilet proposals. Ask him about the criteria on which they sanction the locations for making toilets and this is what he has to say. Pose the question of how most proposed locations either has existing toilets, do not need toilets or seem to be facilitating illegal slums requirements and this is what he has to say. And when we questioned whether it was against rules to erect toilets in areas that had illegal settlements like Sector 30, Vashi, the officer passed the buck of responsibility on another dept. However, there is one man in NMMC who does not hesitate to accept that every expose of the NMTV survey is correct. It’s the NCP Dy. Mayor Shashikant Birajdar. He confesses that most NMMC toilets are giving shelter and services to criminals, drug peddlers and anti social elements. According to the Dy. Mayor the root cause for the toilet scams is that the administration plays to the gallery of selected corporators who want work sanctioned in their wards by hook or crook. And despite all this, we were shocked to find out that there are another 100 proposals for new toilets pending with NMMC. It seems that in the name of infrastructure projects Crores of public taxes are regularly being spent in constructing public toilets in places that are marring the planning of CIDCO and city landmarks. And all this because of administrative apathy, political interference and the greed to gather personal wealth from the public taxes. Everywhere in Navi Mumbai toilets have become powerful political tools for corporators. The corporators insist that the work of maintenance be entrusted to a person of his choice and make it a money minting machine for them. And instead of tackling this head on, the administration on the contrary goes on a spree of constructing new toilets in huge numbers. The end result being that an issue as grave as sanitation and public health has become nothing but a means of corruption for corporators, contractors and officials. Whosoever has traveled by road must have faced the indignation of using the public toilets that are next only to hell. The overpowering stink of human wastes makes one shudder but, when nature calls, one has to make use of whatever comes up. That is why the remarks of the host of an American talk show are relevant – in his words, “Indians can send rockets into space but cannot build a decent public toilet.” Let’s face it: for all the many things we Indians can be justly proud, we do suffer from an incompetence when it comes to sanitation. Navi Mumbai is no different. And no one but the local administration and corporators are to be blamed for being the corrupt root cause of this vicious circle. Zeba Warsia – NMTV News

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