The Delhi government has decided to take steps to build toilets in outer Delhi’s Shahbad dairy, where women and children go to a nearby forest because of lack of such facilities, making them vulnerable to crime.
Hindustan Times on Monday had reported that about 66 children from a slum cluster in the area didn’t return from a nearby forest where they had gone to answer the call of nature because their shanties lacked lavatories.
The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) sent a team to Shahbad Dairy on Tuesday morning and prepared a plan to make the area free from open defecation.
Two pre-fabricated toilet complexes will be opened by the end of July and four more before January next year.
“There are eight toilet complexes managed by north MCD in the area. Three of them are shut and the rest five are in a bad condition. There are four other complexes run by DUSIB; one of them is closed for renovation while the rest three are functional. We have framed an estimate for upgrade and this one will be ready by November this year,” said a DUSIB official.
The board has written to the MCD, asking it to improve the condition of toilets in the area. The area requires at least 1,000 toilet seats but has less than 200 for the population of over 50,000.
There is not a single toilet for 500 families living in Shahbad Diary, forcing every resident to rush to the nearby forest, where children and women become vulnerable to criminal attacks.
Overcome by fear, residents have stopped feeding their children after sunset — an ineffective attempt to prevent nature from calling at night.
Middle-aged Sarita, who has been living in the slum since 1986, vouched that the area was crime-free until a year ago. But not anymore.
“My daughter-in-law doesn’t go there alone … she was harassed by men a few months ago. My grandchildren are underweight but at least they are with us. We don’t feed them at night for their safety,” she said.
Women skip dinner at night. At times, men guard women and children in the woods.
“Our husbands cannot be with us all the time. There is no toilet in the 2km area and despite requesting authorities, we don’t see any hope. We have complained to police but they react only after a crime is committed. There is no sense of security at all,” said Khushboo, a slum resident.
According to Sakhsham, a local NGO working with Child Rights and You (CRY) NGO in Shahbad Dairy, at least 45% of women and children either do not eat or take less food after evening. Malnutrition has crept in as a consequence; and many children are underweight.