A Ghatkopar slum received a major facelift with the addition of 800 toilets.
Lack of sanitation and clean toilets have been one of the major reasons for open defecation, even in a metropolitan city like Mumbai. However, slums like the one in Ghatkopar are becoming exemplary for their support towards the government’s Swachh Bharat Mission.
The Ghatkopar settlement not long ago was the quintessential slum, it lacked clean latrines and adequate sanitation. You’d doubt it at first sight considering the residents even had TV sets and mobile phones, but this was the truth. When the slum was ready to make the shift to toilets, filmmaker Rakesh Omprakash Mehra saw the potential and drove the change.
Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s films have revolved around significant social issues. His initiative to build toilets in the slum too was inspired by his upcoming movie. It follows the story of a young boy living in a slum and his efforts to build a toilet for his mother, which leads him to seek help from the Prime Minister.
Facing The Truth
The filmmaker understands the roadblocks to build toilets in the city. Mumbai’s slums have been raised on unauthorised lands, because of insufficient water connections and pipelines, legally constructing toilets is a hassle. However, the filmmaker has decided to work on the problem with support from the slum communities.
Building Blocks To Sanitation
While filming a movie in the Ghatkopar slum, the filmmaker got the idea to construct toilets in the area. It was more than just a decision. He actively approached the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to acquire a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to go ahead with the plan.
Collaboration With Yuva Unstoppable
It started with 20 toilets. Gradually the numbers rose, leading up to a whopping 800 fully-equipped latrines. Joining hands with Rakesh Omprakash in keeping the sanitation project up and running was the NGO, ‘Yuva Unstoppable’. It has been four years since the project has been in motion and the momentum has been steady.
Making Steady Progress
Building the toilets have not been the only aim. The filmmaker along with the NGO is working towards motivating the people to maintain the latrines. They are collectively doing this by approaching corporators and residents in the area to donate 1 rupee each. The funds are directed towards paying the community workers who manage the upkeep of the toilets.
Spreading The Change
While the shooting of his film is still in progress, the filmmaker has shifted location from the Ghatkopar slum to a settlement near the Powai Lake. He is now keen on bringing about the same transformation that the Ghatkopar slum witnessed.
Today, the toilets in the Ghatkopar slum are an image of sanitation even in private buildings. Replete with tap extensions and pipelines, they are a sign of a better future for a city with an exponentially growing population. Although the pace of infrastructural growth doesn’t match up to that of the rise in population, initiatives like these are surely helping towards the larger mission of a Swachh Bharat.