The Khadki Cantonment Board (KCB) has become the second cantonment in the city, after the Pune Cantonment Board, to be declared ‘Open Defecation Free’ (ODF). A central government team had inspected the cantonment limits on November 10 and bestowed it with the title. Since August this year, the KCB had been involved in construction of new toilet blocks and repairing the existing toilets. The board had also ordered construction of baby channels in present facilities.
A two-member team of the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) carried out day-long inspections in the cities or towns in the Khadki region last week. Amol Jagtap, KCB cantonment CEO told The Indian Express, “A two-member team inspected the cantonment area on November 10. They were particularly impressed by the baby channels, installed for the safety of children.”
A total of 11 blocks of baby channels, with the seating capacity of 166, was constructed at various locations. For repairing the existing toilet facilities in wards 1,2,3 and 7, Rs 77 lakh was allotted. Public spaces and market areas were identified for construction of 23 new toilet blocks.
Impressed by the work, the team said it would recommend construction of baby channels for other localities too, especially the areas with a sizeable population of children. Khadki market and adjacent bus terminus are one of the most populated areas within the cantonment limits, with a footfall of over 5,000 every day. The area houses at least 1 lakh people, nearly half of whom are slum dwellers, with limited access to clean toilets.
Jagtap said, “This was one of our major concerns, as children living in slums had no access to toilets. Initially, we tried the facility in existing toilet blocks and observed a marked improvement in useability… The team has asked us to promote this facility in nearby corporations and towns.”
The baby channels are decorated with cartoons and colourful pictures, making it user-friendly for children. Board officials said they plan to continue planning activities towards maintaining cleanliness in the region.
“The ODF status will definitely help, but the area needs an attitudinal change. In the coming six months, we are planning to organise more such activities, including setting up restrooms for women, particularly in the market area and other public spaces,” they said. A tender has been floated, seeking installation of three e-toilets in Khadki market and near the bus terminus.