Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission falters in Delhi

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The South Delhi Municipal Corporation appear to have made quite a dirty mess of their ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’ sanitation drive.

The cash-rich civic body declared the area under its operation an open defecation-free (ODF) zone on October 2, Gandhi Jayanti, however a reality check by Mail Today found that the SDMC has miles to go before it can make such claims.

A string of these factors were flagged by their own councilors recently, including closure of public toilets at night, which forces the residents of slums and Jhuggi-Jhopdi (JJ) clusters to answer nature’s call out in the open after dark.

People defecating along the drain lines on the main road outside a south MCD toilet which is closd after 9pm

A large number of the new public toilets built by the SDMC are yet to get a sewer connection, which completely goes against the drive to improve sanitation and cleanliness.

Over the last one year, the south MCD has built 700 community and public toilets. In addition, it has installed 25 mobile toilet vans (MTVs) under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) guidelines of positioning one toilet each in a distance of 500 meters in an area where people do not have access to individual toilets.

However, the waste is simple dropping into a large hole rather than being piped to a water treatment facility.

Women waiting for the toilet to open in Delhi, India

When Mail Today visited Ekta Vihar and Sonia Camp in RK Puram Sector 6 last Saturday, it found that the caretakers had closed down the newly-constructed toilet complexes at 9 pm as their shift had come to an end.

Men and children could be seen urinating and defecating in the drain line just outside the facility on the main road.

Women, who had originally welcomed the new toilets that allowed them to relieve themselves without the glare of passing traffic, complained that they are the worst victims of the shift timings.

‘Pregnant women and those who are menstruating face a tough time if they have to answer nature’s call at odd hours,’ said Lalita Srivas, a resident. 

‘We are aware of this problem but finding a solution is difficult,’ Tulsi Joshi, SDMC councillor from the area, told Mail Today.

‘The company which manages sanitation services at our community toilets, namely BVG, works in two shifts — 5 am to 1 pm in the day and 1 to 9 pm in the evening. They have flatly refused to do a night shift.’

BVG officials cite social and safety reasons for not keeping the facility open during late hours.

The objectives of Swachh Bharat include eliminating open defecation through the construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets

‘Slum dwellers are themselves to blame for this situation,’ said one of the officials at the agency which runs these toilet complexes in south Delhi. 

‘We had, in fact, tried out a third night shift on the councillors’ request in many areas. But rowdy men would come drunk at night and create a scene or puke on the premises.’

BVG officials said taking advantage of a thin staff at night, many men would flee after dismantling the taps, basins and other equipment.

‘Safety of children, teenage girls and women is also a question of concern, 비닉스가격 so we had to say a no. The service was not feasible at late hours,’ the official said.

South MCD in Delhi has built 700 toilets but many remain unplumbed

Another issue pertains to the missing sewer connection for the new toilets. In one such area, Kumhar Basti in Malviya Nagar, the councillor, Nandini Sharma said she knew of the problem and had requested department of environment management services (DEMS) to connect the toilets with the sewer lines but it will take some time. 

‘The inauguration of these facilities is futile unless they have proper outflow,’ Sharma said. In other areas, several old toilets, going back to a decade or more, are in urgent need of dismantling to free up the land for new toilets and avoid infections.

‘The problem is particularly acute in areas like Jhuggi-Jhopdis, resettlement colonies, on the Ridge Forest and near railway lines, where inhabitants have no access to individual toilets,’ SDMC deputy mayor Shikha Rai, said.

SDMC officials said they were looking at the problems holistically and have asked for local feedback and solutions.

Umesh Sachdeva, chief engineer, SDMC, said, ‘In areas where say the caretaker company is unwilling to do a night shift and making toilets open to residents at night, we have suggested nominating a responsible person from the slum cluster itself who can manage the facility at night.

A large number of the new public toilets built by the SDMC are yet to get a sewer connection, which completely goes against the drive to improve sanitation and cleanliness (Modi sweeping)

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‘As he or she will be a local, the person will be better equipped to tackle miscreants from the areas, we hope.’

The south and east MCDs declared their areas, with 104 and 64 wards each, open defecation- free on October 2 while the north MCD plans to declare itself the same on December 31.

The Union urban development ministry will inspect the work done by all the three corporations and award them the ODF certificate in January 2018.

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