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Unusable toilets force slum dwellers to defecate in open

Many slum residents are still being forced to defecate in the open, as most community toilet complexes constructed by civic agencies are non-functional and require urgent repairs.
By Neelam Pandey | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2012 11:56 PM IST

Many slum residents are still being forced to defecate in the open, as most community toilet complexes constructed by civic agencies are non-functional and require urgent repairs.

There are approximately 2,100 community toilet complexes in the city, of which 1,200 have not been functional at all for the past several years.

Mission Convergence, a wing of Delhi government, carried out a survey of the other 900 complexes and found that 93 of them, under the three civic agencies, required immediate repair. Fourteen others toilet complexes under the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) were also found to be in a bad shape.

“Infrastructure mapping related to community toilet complexes was undertaken by the Gender Resource Centres wherein approximately 107 toilets were found to be either non-functional or partly functional,” said a senior Delhi government official.

Mission Convergence has written a letter to the three municipal corporations and DUSIB, asking them to repair the toilets soon.

“During our mapping we found that a number of these toilet complexes were not usable. While in some complexes, the toilets had no doors or water supply, in others they were so dirty that people preferred not to use them,” said one of the surveyors.

The senior government official agreed. “These toilet complexes, which are used by nearly 15% of Delhi’s population, are in a state of utter neglect. As most of them are practically unusable, lakhs of people are forced to defecate in the open,” said the official.

According to sources, a number of residents have complained that defecation in places such as parks is exposing people to unhygienic conditions, which result in water-borne diseases.

“Open defecation not only leads to sanitation problems and foul smell, but it is a major reason behind the spread of diseases caused through the feco-oral route,” said a senior doctor in the department of medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

Officials of North Delhi Municipal Corporation said they would repair the complexes soon. “We will look into the matter and devise ways to improve conditions,” said YS Mann, director press and information, North Delhi Municipal Corporation.

Mission Convergence undertook the mapping as part of their Water, Sanitation and Hygiene project. Civic agencies construct community toilet complexes in slum clusters to cater to the basic sanitation needs of a floating population.

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