Despite the municipal corporation (MC) conducting a survey last year to improve living conditions in ‘vehras’, unsanitary conditions continue to prevail there, increasing the threat of various diseases.
Hundreds of these ‘vehras’, which lack basic amenities, are an only option for the people from economically weaker section or migrants to get shelter by paying low rent.
Though the MC had conducted a survey at the vehras around a year ago, nothing has been done by the MC, even as there has been an outbreak of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis cases here in the past week.
The unhygienic conditions at these ‘vehras’ are an open invitation to various water-borne and vector-borne diseases.
Majority of these ‘vehras’ comprise 25-50 rooms, in which over 200 people live. They prepare food in the same small rooms where they sleep.
“We have no other option as we have only one room for six family members. We cook in the same room. Around 150 persons live in our vehra, which has just two toilets-cum-bathrooms. We pay a rent of ? 1,500 per month as we can’t afford better shelter,” said Geeta, who lives in a vehra at Dhandari.
HT has also highlighted in the past that water pipes are passing through sewage in front of some of the ‘vehras’ in Deep Colony. But the MC has failed to act.
“Though the MC generally comes into action after outbreak of diseases, it should also take steps to improve sanitation here. It has been seen that owners of ‘vehras’ manage to get illegal connections of water supply and sewage under the nose of MC officials,” said Tejinder Singh, a resident of Pakhowal Road.
After the outbreak of diseases in Parkash Nagar, Jawaddi, ward number 59 councillor Tanveer Singh Dhaliwal claimed that he would raise the matter in the MC House meeting to act against illegal ‘vehras’ as unsanitary conditions often became the reason behind outbreaks.
Dhaliwal said, “There is need to educate people about maintain hygiene, as they are not only putting their lives at risk, but also of others. I will at least act against illegal ‘vehras’ in ward number 59.”
It is pertinent to mention here that 70% patients in the recent outbreak are from ‘vehras’ of Parkash Nagar and Jawaddi.
Besides, cases of the diarrhoea are commonly reported in the ‘vehras’ of Dhandari, Sherpur, Giaspura and adjoining areas where lakhs of migrants are living under unsanitary conditions. Several outbreaks have occurred in such areas, but the MC is yet to wake up.
According to sources, many of the ‘vehras’ enjoy political patronage due to which MC officials avoid action here. Besides, several ‘vehras’ are generally constructed in violation of building bylaws, including absence of ventilation in the rooms.
Amarjit Singh Sekhon, chief of health and sanitation wing, said the survey was conducted around a year ago in all ‘vehras’. Back then it was found that people were living under unsanitary conditions, but they would ensure sanitation was maintained, he added.
Additional commissioner Davinder Singh, who participated in the survey, was not available for comment. Mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria did not attend calls.