Y.S. RANA , CHANDIGARH—FEB 25—The Centre has given ‘India’ eight years more to free its ‘Bharat’ of open defecation problem. But it seems unlikely by 2044 if a report on sanitation is of any indication. Ask anyone in Chandigarh to name the city in the country where slums are open defecation free (ODF). Answer may be City Beautiful, Chandigarh! But you are mistaken. Tiruchirappalli city is the first city of the country where all slums are ODF. Chandigarh, capital of two States—Punjab and Haryana—is in a civic mess. Yet the corporation sits on piles of cash, crores that it has been allocated to fix Chandigarh but has chosen otherwise.
More or less all households in slums at eight locations in Chandigarh have the same story to tell. Though they have television, mobile, telephone or fans but no access to toilets. Stench of overflowing garbage not cleaned up overpowering these slums. “Matter has been reported to the councillor a number of times but no action. Women and children suffer the most,” alleged residents.
To address the rural sanitation shortcomings, the Government of India launched a programme—Total Sanitation Coverage and it was supposed to achieve by 2012. Though programme has increased the reported coverage of household toilets yet it had a poor record with respect to toilet usage; cost effectiveness and sustainability especially in colonies and slums. Sill 64 per cent Indians across the country defecates in the open.
It is the same old story of apathy, inefficiency and neglect year after year. The promises Municipal Corporation has made in this annual budget are the repetition it had made last year. The corporation has been allocated Rs 780.93 crore for fiscal 2014-15 which is Rs 82 crore more than the previous year.
Though slums are provided with a couple of make-shift toilets constructed a few years back were closed immediately due to lack of maintenace, forcing people to use open spaces, said inhabitants of colony in Sector 52. “Stinking toilets without doors and seats discard as ‘worthless’ antique,” said Brij Lal a resident. We are waiting for the announcement of Lok Sabha election then the leaders will swarm into the colonies and the then civic body will spare a thought for them, added they.
The colony has more than 300 residents, reels under the inaction of the municipal corporation that is responsible for provision of basic facilities in the slums. Vidya Sagar a resident of the colony told Daily Post that garbage litered here and there months altogether. “There are six make-shift toilets in one side of the colony. Four are out of use since long and the remaining two are too not being maintained by the civic body,” they alleged.
Another resident who has been residing in the colony for the past 15 years told that early in the morning people queued up for the nature call and waited long for their turn. But now they did not wait and use open spaces. “Filth alround; lack of street lights; miserable sanitation and sewage which makes life miserable for them but also invitation to a number of diseases,” said he.
The Joint Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Municipal Corporation, Mr Rajiv Kumar Gupta told that the corporation would purchase ten more mobile toilets for the slums this year. The official of the corporation claimed better off before with figures but councillors of opposition were not ready to buy that. They alleged ineptitude of the body. Their allegations are substantiated by the ground reality faced by slums.
Someone should make an attempt to write discovery of another India, the book that Nehru did not write.