The next time you see someone answering nature’s call by the roadside, simply call the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) clean-up marshals. They will fine the person on the spot – Rs 200 for peeing in public and Rs 100 for defecating in the open. The city’s clean-up marshals, who were till now deployed for maintaining cleanliness at public places, now have also been tasked with stopping people from defecating in the open.
As a part of its open defecation-free city project, the BMC has asked clean-up marshals to focus on preventing people from defecating in the open. The move is likely to be implemented from November 15 in the city.
According to the BMC’s cleanliness and sanitation byelaws of 2006, defecating in the open is banned and it would invite a fine of Rs 100.
However, thousands of people still flout the rules. “We have received several complaints that, despite constructing community toilets in slum areas, people continue to defecate in the open. To stop this, we have decided to assign clean-up marshals the task of preventing them from doing so. However, this will be implemented only after local residents or non-government organisations (NGOs) ask the BMC to appoint clean-up marshals in their areas to prevent open defecation,” said Mr Vijay Balamwar, deputy municipal commissioner (solid waste management).
Mr Balamwar said that the civic body wants the people’s active participation to make this initiative successful. Hence, ward officials have been asked to inform locals, NGOs and advanced locality management (ALM) groups about the availability of clean-up marshals to prevent open defecation. “The clean-up agencies have also been told to provide adequate manpower for this task,” he added.
The BMC has re-introduced the clean-up marshal scheme in the city from July. As a part of this, it has appointed 23 private security agencies, which have appointed marshals at 778 places in the city to ensure cleanliness.
However, civic officials have said that the initial thrust would be upon creating public awareness among people. “The clean-up marshals would be first asked to explain to slum dwellers the hazards of open defecation and how to prevent them. They will also be made aware about the ill effects of human faeces. But if they still do not listen despite repeated pleas, they will be fined,” said a senior BMC officer.
According to civic data, there are 117 open-air defecation spots all over the city. Only two wards – B (Pydhonie and Mohammed Ali Road) and C (Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar) – have been declared as being free from open-air defecation so far. A few months ago, the BMC had even held a special public awareness drive to prevent open defecation, but it failed to receive much response.