Did Chandigarh deserve the award for ‘achieving’ 100% open defecation-free city status, which mayor Arun Sood and MC commissioner B Purushartha received from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday? People have reservations going by the sequence of events prior to the visit of the Centre’s inspection committee.
As per records, in a meeting held on September 20, the municipal corporation decided to park 200 relocatable toilets and 20 mobile toilets vans at designated locations in view of the September 25 visit of the committee constituted by the government of India. The toilets were placed at the locations on September 24, a day before the panel’s visit.
A senior officer of the MC on condition of anonymity said, “We have hired 20 mobile toilet vans from Delhi and Ludhiana as we were unable to provide re-locatable toilets by the time the panel was to visit the city. We will replace these mobile toilets vans with relocatable toilets within three months.”
The committee members from New Delhi arrived on September 25 and were taken to the designated places where the mobile toilet vans and relocatable toilets had been placed in and around colonies in Sectors 25, 38 and other parts of the city. Interestingly, there is no round-the-clock water supply in these toilets, a must to maintain cleanliness. Sources say for lack of water, people still go out in open to relieve themselves. Also, there is no provision of power supply in the said toilets.
A resident of Sector 38, Rajesh Sharma, said, “MC officials didn’t apply their minds and placed the mobile toilet van at the light points. Who will go there? It was an eyewash.”
MC commissioner B Purushartha said, “The process of providing toilets was going on for over a month. As far as the committee is concerned, they have to see the current status. We have been creating awareness among people about why they should use toilets. We should be feel proud for the award.”
Former mayor Pardeep Chhabra said merely placing toilet vans a day before the panel’s visit doesn’t make the city 100% open defecation-free. “The facility should have been in use for a year before assessment. MC has misled the committee by showing them designated places only. What about other areas?” he said.