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Removal of toilet outside Salman’s house raises stink

February 23, 2019 05:55 AM


Removal of toilet outside Salman’s house raises stink
Installed despite stiff opposition in 2017, it was removed on Thursday; BMC says it will be back after Bandstand revamp; residents have doubts

Bandra’s most controversial public toilet, installed at Bandstand over a year ago, was dismantled and carried away by the BMC on Thursday. The Bandra Bandstand Residents Trust (BBRT) and local resident groups led by Congress corporator Asif Zakaria alleged that it was removed under pressure from a section of eminent citizens and that the money spent on it has now gone down the drain. The BMC on its part claimed that the toilet has been removed temporarily as the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) will soon begin revamp of the Bandstand promenade.

Installed outside actors Salman Khan and Waheeda Rehman’s homes in April 2017, the toilet had turned into an immediate political controversy. Though most local residents were not against the urinal, almost 50 Bandra Bandstand residents, including writer Salim Khan and Rehman, didn’t want it installed in areas frequented by walkers and joggers, fearing the stink and unhygienic conditions.

“The BMC has removed two such toilets from Bandra. If they were going to remove them, then they should not have installed them in the first place. I think there has been a complete mismanagement of funds in this toilet installation,” said Zakaria, who was against the installation of the toilet in the first place, but feels that once installed it should have been put to use.

Benedict Soares of the BBRT said that the toilet was being maintained for the past one year by the trust. “We have a letter from the BMC asking us to maintain the toilet but they didn’t tell us why they were taking it away,” Soares said, affirming that it’s sheer waste of funds. Denying all allegations of fund mismanagement, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of H-West Ward Sharad Ughade said that the toilet was installed using the funds of BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and it will be reinstalled after the MMB finishes the beautification of the promenade.

BJP legislator Ashish Shelar confirmed this and said that that MMB has undertaken the beautification of the promenade on his party’s behest. “Congress’s Asif Zakaria had opposed the installation in 2017. We will call a meeting with the BMC and the residents to sort this out,” he said. Zakaria, however, insisted that MMB should specify by when the beautification would finish, else the toilet might never be reinstalled, which is “waste of public money”.

In 2017, the toilet had raked up a political controversy, with Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar directing the BMC to take “immediate corrective measures” as the installation of the toilet had upset eminent citizens in the area. Congress corporator Asif Zakaria had also opposed the installation of toilets on three locations and demanded stay on them by writing to the BMC chief Ajoy Mehta.

According to civic officials, the municipality went ahead and spent around Rs 20 lakh on three toilets in Bandra West. Pankaj Sharma of Dharmaraj Enterprises, who had installed the toilets, confirmed that he had received the entire payment for installing the units and had maintained them for around three months. “We left the site when the BMC didn’t pay us for the fittings. The civic body is yet to pay us around Rs 4 lakh for fittings and maintenance. Now we were asked to remove the toilets, so we did what we were told. We were not given any reason,” he said.

Soares from BBRT said that hundreds of walkers will suffer with the toilet being removed. “The BMC must re-install it. We feel the beautification can be done with the toilet there,” he said.


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