Govt responsible for upkeep of toilets,but civic bodies take the stink

What began with transfer of roads from the local bodies to the city government has now progressed to sanitation in slum clusters as well.

Written by Apurva | New Delhi | Published:April 8, 2013 1:08 am

What began with transfer of roads from the local bodies to the city government has now progressed to sanitation in slum clusters as well. Much to the BJP’s chagrin,the Delhi government directed that the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) would take over the maintenance of more than 200 toilet blocks in the city’s jhuggi-jhopri (JJ) clusters from April 1.

According to the government’s orders,the three municipal corporations were to hand over control of toilet blocks in most JJ clusters to the DUSIB by March 31. While the government justified the move citing delayed and disorganised maintenance of sanitation in JJ clusters,the BJP-led corporations asserted that public sanitation was the responsibility of the civic bodies and not the state government.

Over the last few weeks,the DUSIB has written letters to several municipal councillors,directing them to stop all work,including floating tenders for maintenance and repair,in slum cluster toilets citing ‘redundancy’.

With little or no maintenance of sanitation in JJ clusters for at least a month now,councillors routinely face the electorate’s ire. Chandra Prakash,a JD(U) councillor in Govindpuri,who had nearly completed the tender process for a toilet block in the Navjeevan Camp,was asked to cease and desist. “Every time I visit my constituency,people only ask about sanitation. In this ward,there are three such clusters,which house thousands of families. The toilets here are in desperate need of maintenance and we can do nothing. The state government has ordered us not to do anything,” Prakash said.

Prakash showed Newsline letters and memorandums from several community leaders and individuals,all of which demand immediate respite from dysfunctional toilets.

“In some blocks,there are no doors and in others,the taps and fixtures are broken. In most blocks,the pipes are blocked. Our hands are tied. I have made representations to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Delhi ministers,but to no avail,” Prakash said.

Meanwhile,the Delhi government defended its decision claiming DUSIB would take over blocks,which needed immediate attention. Urban Development Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said,“We have ordered DUSIB to take over those blocks as we believe the corporations could not maintain them. The corporation received foreign funding for some toilet blocks,which they will still retain.”

According to Lovely,the decision to transfer the maintenance of toilet blocks was taken after representations from MLAs and Resident Welfare Associations (RWA). “Over the last few months,several MLAs and RWAs complained to us about the poor condition of toilet blocks in JJ clusters. When the civic bodies claimed they had no funds,we decided to hand over control to the DUSIB,” Lovely said. He added that if the corporations assured them of proper upkeep,the government would ‘gladly’ hand back control of toilet blocks.

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