The Plight of Public Toilets in Mumbai During Monsoons


Mumbai, a city that never sleeps, faces a deluge of problems every monsoon season, one of the most pressing being the condition of its public toilets. The heavy rains exacerbate the already dire sanitation issues, causing severe public health risks and daily discomfort for the city’s residents.

Overflooding and Sewage Problems

Mumbai’s public toilets, especially in slum areas, are infamous for their poor condition. During the monsoons, these issues become more acute. The city’s drainage system struggles to cope with the heavy rainfall, leading to widespread flooding. Public toilets, often not connected to proper sewage systems, overflow with rainwater and raw sewage. This results in extremely unhygienic conditions that pose serious health risks, including the spread of diseases like cholera and typhoid.

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) frequently warns residents about high tides and the potential for flooding. With the 2024 monsoon season predicted to bring 22 high tides exceeding 4.5 meters, the city is on high alert. These high tides, combined with heavy rainfall, lead to low-lying areas, including many public toilet locations, being inundated with water. The overflowing toilets mix with rainwater, creating pools of contaminated water on the streets and in living areas.

Inadequate Infrastructure

The state of public toilets in Mumbai highlights a critical infrastructure deficit. According to a survey by the Praja Foundation, only 25% of public toilets are designated for women, and a mere 4% are accessible to specially-abled citizens. Furthermore, many public toilets lack essential amenities. A 2015 survey revealed that 58% of toilets had no electricity, 72% were not connected to a sewerage line, and 78% lacked a proper water connection. The lack of these basic facilities is even more problematic during the monsoons when reliable infrastructure is crucial to managing increased waste and maintaining hygiene.

Gender Disparity and Accessibility

Gender disparity in access to public toilets is another significant issue. The limited number of toilets for women and the poor conditions of existing facilities discourage use, leading many women to avoid public toilets entirely. This issue is compounded during the monsoons, when the discomfort and health risks associated with using flooded, unhygienic toilets become even greater.

Health Implications

The public health implications of these sanitation issues are severe. The overflowing of public toilets during the monsoons leads to the spread of waterborne diseases. In areas like Dharavi, one of Mumbai’s largest slums, residents are often forced to live in close proximity to these unhygienic conditions. This not only increases the risk of disease but also exacerbates existing health problems, especially for children and the elderly.

Government and Community Response

The Indian government and local organizations are aware of these issues and have made efforts to improve the situation. The Swachh Bharat Mission, launched in 2014, aimed to make India open defecation-free by 2019. However, the reality in cities like Mumbai shows that significant challenges remain. According to reports, about 42% of households in Mumbai still do not have access to private toilets and rely on public or community facilities.

Local community organizations and NGOs have been working to provide better sanitation facilities and educate residents on hygiene practices. Despite these efforts, progress is slow, and much more needs to be done to ensure that basic sanitation needs are met, especially during the challenging monsoon season.


The plight of public toilets in Mumbai during the monsoons is a stark reminder of the city’s ongoing sanitation crisis. Flooding, overflooding of sewage, inadequate infrastructure, and gender disparity in toilet access all contribute to the problem. While efforts are being made to address these issues, the scale of the problem requires more comprehensive and sustained interventions. Ensuring that all residents have access to clean and safe sanitation facilities, especially during the monsoon season, is crucial for the health and well-being of Mumbai’s population.

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