The total requirement was 1,25,000 toilet seats in 2001, when the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had conducted its first and only survey on the sanitation needs for the country's commercial population.

"Now, last month (October), the MCGM has initiated another survey which will be completed by early 2014, which will throw light on the current situation," said M Mohana, spokesperson for Clean India, on the occasion of World Toilet Day on Tuesday.

Official figures say it costs Rs 1, 50,000 to construct a toilet seat. Thus, the cost of creating 47,000 toilet seats would be phenomenal, she said.

However, she said that these figures are at macro-level, at the micro-level, given the density of slums, the distance and accessibility, the actual requirement is of 64,000 public toilet seats.

The Maharashtra government, through its Slum Sanitation Program is spending Rs1.50 lakhs, but given the galloping population, it is simply not enough.

Even going by the 2001 figures, the ratio of toilets versus population comes to a whopping 1:50 or 3000 people using it daily, she said. It’s a matter of little wonder that more than half a million people, including women, in Mumbai are forced to defecate in the open, as per an independent study a few years ago.

The need of the hour is to encourage community toilet blocks and experiments in this direction have resulted in reducing the ratio of 1:30, said JP Nair, MD of a firm, which gives away annual awards to the best maintained community toilets in the city.

He lauded the state authorities for doing a great job in the field, but the sheer number of people - 17 million as per 2011 Census - is so staggering that they need all the support possible.

"They provide sanitation not only to the 60 percent Mumbai slum population, but also to the huge numbers who travel within the city daily. But a lot more needs to be done," Nair said.

On one hand, Mumbai has a huge population defecating in the open and on the other there are exclusive air-conditioned public toilets which can be accessed by a nominal fee and community blocks which make use of modern automatic cleaning facilities, solar lighting and water heating and other facilities.


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