For Kaushalya, a resident of Janta Mazdoor Camp in Seelampur, the issue of lack of toilets is passe’. If given an option, she and the other inhabitants of her slum would rather opt for a robust sewage network and a door-to-door garbage collection system.
Kaushalya’s cluster was one of the 52 slums, which the Delhi government had promised to transform into ‘Adarsh Bastis’ (Model slums) by August 30. It has been over a month since the deadline passed. But life in the slum has not changed for her.
“I had attended the meeting on the Adarsh Basti project in June. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was also there. But nothing happened after that. Our septic tank is overflowing. We want proper sewage connectivity,” she said.
The 52 slums of Delhi’s 675 slums were identified by the government for development with focus on sanitation. The project involved ensuring community toilets are available and are in good condition, creating ‘Shishu Vatikas’ or playing areas for children, proper sewage network, road resurfacing, water supply and adequate lighting on streets. The power discoms had identified 1,108 dark spots in these slums that needed to be illuminated.
The project is being implemented by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) in collaboration with eight NGOs and self-help groups (SHGs). When HT enquired about the delay, DUSIB CEO, VK Jain, attributed it to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed between the organisation and the NGOs.
“The MoU had to be redrafted as the law department had raised a few objections. Therefore, we had to tweak it in consultation with the NGOs. It has to be now approved by the government’s high level committee. Meanwhile, we are installing toilets in all these clusters and in few, sewage network is also being laid,” he said.
According to Vimla Devi of Mahila Pragati Manch, an SHG that is working in the project, it is likely to take a long time to complete it. “Sensitization should be the main focus of the project apart from sanitation. Besides, the toilets which are being installed are outside the bastis and are shut at night after 9 pm or 10 pm. People are left with no option but to defecate in the open,” she said.
As of now, the government has set no fresh deadline for the Adarsh Basti project as DUSIB is actively pursuing the toilet building and slum rehabilitation projects on priority basis.