As many as 70% urban slum dwellers still defecate in the open in Jharkhand capital as they either have no toilets or have non-functional ones, according to a joint survey conducted by government agencies.
This only exposes government’s claims about construction of toilets across the state and proves that the situation in urban slums is as worse as it is in rural areas, where only 28% households have toilets.
The survey was conducted by the health, drinking water and sanitation departments in association with Ranchi Municipal Corporation during November and December.
Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) officials said that data was collated after speaking to families in 10 of 55 RMC wards with high slum dwellings.
According to the corporation estimates, Ranchi has 10.07 lakh people and out of them three lakh dwell in slums.
The survey found that about 20% households didn’t have toilets and 50% resorted to open defecation because their toilets lacked water supply or were in unusable condition, the officials said.
“These are slum localities fall within the city limits. The findings from Ward 4,5,6,7,8,49,50,51,52 and 53, indicate a serious threat to sanitation, contamination of water bodies and health of city-dwellers,” said health officer-in-charge Ajay Kumar Majhi.
Ward 7 councilor Pushpa Kachyap said, “The RMC has been ignoring the issue. The corporation must ensure slum dwellers are not excluded from the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).” Women and girls expose them to high sexual attack risk by defecating at the secluded places, especially during evening hours, she pointed out.
Crime against women has seen a spurt in Ranchi with 135 rape cases in 2015 against 131 in 2014.
“The survey was taken up by the state to get a reality check on whether schemes are reaching slum dwellers,”said Ranjan Kanti Panda, assistant director CINI, an NGO supporting the survey.
The State Urban Development Agency (SUDA) pinned the shoddy toilet coverage on the civic body. “We have time again told the urban body to speed up work and disposal of applications,” SUDA director Rajesh Kumar Sharma said.
By the end of this fiscal year, the RMC under the SBM have to build 6318 toilets. However, a SUDA report in October shows that the work has started on just 1200 toilets while about 3200 toilet applications are still pending.
Ranchi reproductive and child health officer Pratibha Narayan said, “The 10 wards have the first urban health centres in Ranchi under the National Urban Health Mission. But these centres will be of little hope if sanitation is not improved.”
The survey found that not a single community toilet had been built in 10 wards. According to the SUDA report the RMC should have finished the construction of at least 40 such toilets by December.
RMC deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya said, “We have sped up SBM. The results will soon come.”