Two days after 31-year-old Ravinder Kumar, an e-rickshaw driver and manager of a stall at GTB Nagar Metro station, was killed after he stopped two men from urinating in public, he earned praise from Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, who said Kumar was propagating Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. But there was a cruel irony that went unnoticed: Kumar never had a toilet at his own home, and had to rely on an ill-maintained public toilet meant for Kishore Market jhuggis. Half of the toilets in the complex, residents said, are not functional, and for the last year-and-a-half, no authority has taken responsibility for its maintenance.
On Monday afternoon, as news spread that Naidu was going to visit the jhuggis, the area was cleaned and bleaching powder was put everywhere. Kumar’s wife spent the day sitting in an alley next to their home, which is incidentally the only route to the toilet complex. The complex itself is dilapidated, with separate floors for men and women. There are two water tanks on the roof, but no direct water supply. Taps are broken and sewerage overflows. “Today they cleaned up the entire place, but it is a daily struggle for us to use the toilets. Of 10 seats each for men and women, only five work on each floor. We have to arrange water ourselves,” Kumar’s brother, Vijender, said.
Savitri, who lives in the area, said they have approached authorities several times, but in vain. Another resident, Jaychand Pandey, showed a copy of the letter he claimed he had sent to the area MLA in 2015 to construct drains. In a letter dated December 8, 2015, to the DUSIB executive engineer, the MLA directed that urgent action be taken regarding a new sewer and drainage line. However, no action taken.
MLA Pankaj Pushkar said it is up to the DUSIB to fix the problem. “Earlier, toilets used to be maintained by MCD, which is ready to handover the toilet to DUSIB, but the electricity bill is due. The jhuggi is under DUSIB’s list, but it’s not like the problem can’t be solved. For the last one-and-a-half years, I have been behind DUSIB for a solution, but they are delaying it.” DUSIB executive engineer (Circle 7) Kulbhushan Sharma said the jhuggis are not under their list.