30/12/2016 2:05 PM IST | Updated 30/12/2016 3:31 PM IST

Believe It Or Not: Mumbai Has Been Declared An Open Defecation Free City

But there's a catch.

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Indian children walk along the railway tracks after defecating in the open on International Toilet Day.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has declared Mumbai free of open defecation. According to the BMC, Mumbai has become the third ODF city after Kolhapur and Navi Mumbai. The civic body has sent a letter to the ministry of urban development stating the achievement.

Hard to believe? We don't blame you. This comes as a huge surprise for the residents of Mumbai where open defecation is not a rare sight.

However, there's a catch.

In this declaration, the BMC is not taking responsibility for people defecating in the open in land parcels owned by other government agencies such as railways, in Aarey colony or on Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) land and Defense area in south Mumbai.

Chief Ajoy Mehta has written to the railway authorities to deploy Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel to prevent open defecation in railway premises, especially in Mahim, Bandra and Kurla.

Earlier, the BMC had also requested the authorities to construct public toilets on railway land as per the directives issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). However, no response was received.

So, if the city is not really open defecation free, why declare so?

To earn points, apparently. As Hindustan Times notes, as part of Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan, various civic authorities were directed to make their city open-defecation free. The BMC had to self-declare itself open-defecation free before December 31, 2016 to earn points under the Swachha Bharat Abhiyaan.

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