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Toilet blocks may add to Yamuna's woes

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI SEPT. 12. Instead of helping in cleaning up the highly-polluted river, the sloppily constructed 1,006 community toilet complexes (CTC) under the Yamuna Action Plan, with Japanese financial grant are going to be a permanent liability on the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and would drain its resources in the coming years.

Repair work costing lakhs of rupees are required and are being carried out in a majority of the CTCs across the city that were constructed spending about Rs. 160 crores two months ago. These are now being handed over to non-governmental organisations for operation and maintenance.

After inspecting the CTCs, a senior MCD civil engineer conceded that they would require crores of rupees for their annual maintenance. "In four or five years many of these would collapse and much more would be declared dangerous and beyond use,'' he said.

Cracks in the building, seepage of sewer lines, non-working generators, sinking toilet seats and short circuit of electrical fittings, have become a common phenomenon in most CTCs that were constructed under the Yamuna Action Plan with the objective that no untreated sewage reached the river.

The doors and windows of flammable plastic material have already been damaged at a number of CTCs, in particularly those slum clusters and unauthorised colonies where smoking "bidis'' is wide-spread among the men-folk.

A large number of the CTCs have already started stinking and sewerage blockage has become a common problem. Such is the stink and filth prevailing at the CTCs that people avoid the bathrooms or use the other facilities due to the odour. The toilet complexes having 20-30 seats do not have even proper circulation space.

Add to this the strong opposition from the local community leaders and elected representatives (MLAs and Councillors) to pay Rs. 1 as service charge to the NGOs as per memorandum of understanding signed with the civic body.

While a large number of these NGOs have written to the civic body about the poor construction work and repair needed to be undertaken, a few of them are seriously contemplating leaving the task and hand over the CTC back to MCD. These NGOs have urged the MCD to complete the repair work soon.

``Otherwise we cannot open the complex for the public,'' said Syed Akbar Ali, of Mahatma Jyoti Phule Sansthan, which has four CTCs for operation and maintenance. What might pose danger to the lives of users is the increasing chances of short circuits due to seepage. "Electrical fittings are not proper and generators non-functional. It has only been dumped in one corner of the CTCs,'' said S. Singh of Gautam Budh Paryavaran Unnayan Sansthan.

The Indian Association of Voluntary Social Organisations - a conglomerate of such NGOs - has demanded an investigation into the poor construction work of the CTCs.

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