The Delhi Assembly's Environment Committee has urged Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to chair a high-level meeting to address the deplorable condition of community toilet complexes in the Capital. It wants these complexes to be brought under the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board to ensure their proper upkeep.
The Environment Committee had last year sought a report from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on the status of community toilet complexes and had found the situation to be quite alarming.
Panel chairman Hari Shanker Gupta said it was revealed that these toilet complexes, which are used by nearly 15 per cent of Delhi's population, were in a state of utter neglect. “Since most of them are practically unusable, lakhs of people are forced to defecate in the open.”
In the report, the MCD had stated that out of the 1,544 community toilet complexes which had about 27,000 water closets, as many as 767 were found to be in need of minor repairs while 475 were in need of major repairs as per a survey conducted in 2008.
Moreover, it also informed that of these, 294 were no longer required as the Delhi Jal Board had laid sewer lines around these colonies and the residents had installed water closets in their houses.
“But we found that most of these toilet complexes were not usable. Either they lacked doors or water supply or were simply so dirty that people preferred not using them,” Mr. Gupta said.
With people easing themselves in the open, not only does it lead to sanitation problems and constant presence of foul smell, but large parts of Delhi are also exposed to unhygienic conditions that promote water-borne ailments.
In view of this scenario, the Environment Committee has urged the Chief Minister to chair its meeting with senior officials of the DUSIB, MCD, Environment Department and Delhi Assembly to resolve the issue.
In the meeting, now scheduled for March 8, Mr. Gupta said demand would be raised that all public toilets be brought under the DUSIB, whose primary responsibility is maintenance of slums and jhuggi-jhonpri clusters.
Besides, he said, so far the Delhi Government had been making lump sum allocations to the MCD for various activities such as sweeping of the roads, lifting garbage, cleaning drains less than four feet and maintaining public toilets.
Here again, the panel now wants that the Government to specify in the Delhi Budget the specific heads under which it would be making allocations to the MCD. “This would ensure that the amounts earmarked for particular objectives were indeed spent on them.”
In the last three years, the MCD has claimed that it spent Rs.1.27 crore on public toilets in 2007-08, Rs.10 lakh in 2008-09 and Rs.26 lakh in 2009-10. As per Mr. Gupta, these do not show on the ground. “We therefore also want that specific amounts of around Rs.2 to 3 lakh be allocated for each of the toilet complexes, they be numbered and the officials responsible for their maintenance be identified and mentioned to fix the accountability.”
The panel chief said these measures would help all Delhiites lead a life of dignity. Also, it would ensure a certain degree of safety for women toilet users. He added.