Delhi builds a wall — to save canal from defe­ca­tors

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times City - [email protected] times­ Photo:

New Delhi: When the cen­tral gov­ern­ment de­clares the coun­try free of open defe­ca­tion on Oc­to­ber 2, there will be some lo­cal­i­ties in north-west Delhi that will blush with em­bar­rass­ment. To stop reg­u­lar defe­ca­tion into the canals car­ry­ing raw water from Haryana, walls are be­ing erected at a cost of Rs 6.3 crore at Bawana and Sar­dar Colony near Ro­hini, Sec­tor 18. The stretches of the Car­rier Lined Canal and Delhi Sub Branch Canal there carry water from the Mu­nak wa­ter­works in Haryana to Delhi’s Haider­pur water treat­ment plant.

“While the Haryana ir­ri­ga­tion de­part­ment main­tains both the canals, Delhi Jal Board bears the op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance costs,” ex­plained a DJB of­fi­cial. “Haryana has sub­mit­ted an es­ti­mate of Rs 4 crore to put up a con­crete wall at JJ colony, Bawana, and of Rs 2.3 crore at Sar­dar Colony, both meant to pre­vent defe­ca­tion in the canals.” He said ap­proval of the con­struc­tions was con­veyed to Haryana on half an hour in the morn­ing.” Seema Devi added that the poor peo­ple could not af­ford the us­age charge of Rs 5 for men and Rs 2 for women.

There’s a new toi­let com­plex at the en­try to the colony, but the lo­cals com­plained that it has been ly­ing un­used, await­ing in­au­gu­ra­tion for three months. The care­taker claimed that the ac­tual prob­lem was the ab­sence of a water con­nec­tion.

M A Qud­dus of NGO Mahila Jagriti Samiti said that it was shame­ful that women had to wait for night­fall to re­lieve them­selves at the em­bank­ments. “It is a liv­ing hell. We can’t even walk with our heads held high,” he said.

The Up­per Ya­muna River Board, the statu­tory body reg­u­lat­ing river water al­lo­ca­tion, noted the sig­nif­i­cance of the walls for water sup­ply when its chair­man re­cently ad­vised the “early com­ple­tion of work to en­sure that Delhi gets safe raw water”. DJB has also re­ceived ref­er­ences on the is­sue from the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

North cor­po­ra­tion com­mis­sioner Var­sha Joshi said: “DUSIB needs to build more toi­lets in spe­cific lo­ca­tions where they feel there is an open defe­ca­tion prob­lem.”

Of the 4,378 ur­ban lo­cal bod­ies in In­dia, 94 have been un­able to get the cov­eted open defe­ca­tion-free cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, North Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion, peo­ple by 62.5 lakh, be­ing one of them. Its ap­pli­ca­tions have been re­jected four times, the last in Au­gust when a team from the Qual­ity Coun­cil of In­dia — which con­ducts third-party in­spec­tion on be­half of Union min­istry of ur­ban af­fairs — found ev­i­dence of hu­man fae­ces in the Ke­shavpu­ram zone. “Cit­i­zens have also con­firmed defe­cat­ing in the open,” QCI said to the civic body while re­fus­ing them the cer­tifi­cate.

Of­fi­cials claimed that be­hav­iour change had been a ma­jor chal­lenge. Mayor Av­tar Singh said he would get the of­fend­ing ar­eas sur­veyed and so­lu­tions de­ter­mined. “We will reap­ply for ODF cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, and hope to get it this time,” he said.

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