Youths from Mulund's Ramgarh Nagar say they are being rejected by prospective brides who turn up their noses at lack of toilet facilities in the area
Ganesh Turkane (extreme right) says he will now have to rent a flat and live in Titwala if he has to get married. Pic/ Rajesh Gupta
Not bungalows or cars or diamonds, and not even a good family and steady job, Mulund youths just need one thing to woo a girl and get her to agree for marriage -- toilets. The shortage of public loos is affecting the future of young men in Mulund.
In over 2,000 lower middle-class homes in the area, young men, despite earning well, have failed to find a partner.
Ramgarh Nagar residents outside one of the loos there
Give toilet, get girl
Ramgarh Nagar in the eastern suburb has only 56 useable toilets for over 17,000, with women, senior citizens and schoolchildren frequently spotted in long queues daily to attend to nature's calls. The locality's working professionals, on the other hand, in a bid to save time, are forced to travel in autorickshaws or walk a few miles to use public toilets in nearby areas.
The young generation has now started moving out to get access to personal toilets.
The toilet outside the area where they have to travel to. Pics/ Rajesh Gupta
Ganesh Turkane, 26, an HR professional with a Navi Mumbai firm, told mid-day, "I am from Ahmednagar but have grown up here. About five months ago, my parents had chosen a girl from our native place for my marriage. Everything was going well, till the family visited my house in Sai Sadan chawl. On seeing the scarcity of toilets, they questioned us how their daughter would be able to manage. Later, we found out that they had liked me, yet weren't keen on the alliance because of the toilet shortage problem. Now, to get married, I am planning to shift to Titwala and rent a flat there."
Activist Rajesh Jadhav shows a complaint letter sent to the BMC on the Ramgarh Nagar issue
Till loo do us part
The locals said the 56 toilets are occupied round the clock, because of which they are rarely cleaned. And having to be in such unhygienic places poses a risk to their health.
Another 26-year-old, Ankush Shrikante, has been rejected twice by two families. "I am from Ahmednagar; my parents are there, while I live here with my sister. Because of the pathetic number of toilets here, we have to wake up at 4 am or wait in queue for hours for our turn," he said.
Ramgarh Nagar slums in Mulund west
"My family has been looking for a girl for me. They had selected two from my native place. When the families visited and wanted to use the washroom, they had to wait for a long time in the queue. So then, they called off the marriage talks. I hope there's a solution to this. Nonetheless, I am planning to shift to the outskirts, rent a flat, and then, get married."
One more resident of Sai Sadan chawl, Gaurav Gulane, 26, has already shifted to Amravati after getting married on June 3. His mother, Vandana, who is still living in the chawl, told mid-day, "A day after getting married, when the bride came home, she pointed out the long queues for toilets. And she is a nurse; so, obviously, she is aware of how unclean places are breeding grounds for diseases. Hence, my son had to shift to our native place in Amravati with her."
Vandana Gulhane, whose son and daughter-in-law had to shift
Years-long fight to naught
Activists from the area, who have been writing to the BMC to get the issue solved, are frustrated at how little has been done. A social worker, Rajesh Jadhav, has planned a hunger strike on August 14 to force the authorities to take action.
"On July 6, I wrote my nth letter to the T ward officer, stating that I will observe a hunger strike for the area's residents. I don't understand why the people are being made to struggle for a basic need," he said.
Another activist, Bhushan Shelar, said, "I have been complaining to the BMC and the corporators for the past two years, and yet, nothing."
The area's corporator, BJP's Samita Kamble, however, said, "I have brought the matter to the notice of the local authorities and have also raised the issue before the municipal commissioner. There is major space crunch in Ramgarh Nagar; so, that needs to be dealt with first if new toilets are to be built. My goal is that each house gets its own washroom. We are working to resolve the issue."
Ganesh Turkane, 26, an HR professional
'The girl's family had liked me and was happy with my job, yet weren't keen on the alliance because of the toilet issue. Now, to get married, I am planning to shift to Titwala and rent a flat there'
Ankush Shrikante, 26, Ramgarh Nagar resident
'My family had selected two girls for me. When the families visited, they had to wait for a long time in the queue to use the washroom. So then, they called off the marriage talks'
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