Residents of Bhalswa Resettlement Colony are not allowed to construct toilets in their home. So most of 3,900 houses here comprising an estimated 20,000 members have to rely on the five public toilet complexes here. While men have to shell out Rs.2, women have to pay Re.1 to use these toilets. A family comprising five adult men has to dish out Rs.300 to use public toilets every month.
“Add the costs that womenfolk too incur and the amount that a joint family incurs for using toilets is more than the Rs.250-300 that APL/BPL households spend on getting their monthly rations. Despite this, the toilets are unclean. This shows how flawed policies are,” remarks Manmohan Singh, a young volunteer with the Bhalswa Lok Shakti Manch (BLSM).
As part of their campaign demanding ownership rights to their plots, the BLSM has commenced a survey to calculate the monthly and long-term expenses incurred by the residents to settle down here. The survey would help them argue that they be charged only a low percentage of the circle rates prevalent in the locality to acquire freehold rights. Many men and women here still go back to the places where they originally resided, for jobs, adding further to their transportation expenses, which varied between Rs.600 and Rs.1,500 per month per working adult.
According to BLSM’s Pushpa, poor quality of water here has led to medical expenses between Rs.100 and Rs.1,000 per household per month. While a few households buy bottled water and even invested in water purifiers, the others rely on water from hand-pumps that cost them between Rs.3,000-5,000 for installing.
While the PDS is a boon for the poor, due to lack of access to ration shops, they spend more on transportation. Households at Bhalswa that visit ration shops at Jehangirpuri, 2-3 km away to collect their rations, spend Rs.30-50 hiring TSRs to bring the 30-40 kg-heavy supplies back home.