Wednesday, July 2, 2008

'Beautiful' parks for the 'makaanwalas' at the cost of toilets for slum dwellers...

This is a little about a slum area in Jhilmil Colony, beyond Shahdra in Delhi.
A Block basti area:
This basti area has a small population of just about 150-200. The basti area is adjacent to an area where the ‘makaanwalas’ (people with proper brick houses) live.
At present, there is no toilet facility for the people of this basti area. Earlier, there was a proper toilet complex where the facility of toilets and bathing was there. There was proper water supply, all the basti people were very happy. The facility was run by the MCD. Each person had to pay a mere Rs. 5 for the month for to use the toilet. But, about one and a half years back, the toilet complex was broken down and it has been replaced by a park.
I happened to meet the ‘pradhaan’ of the area – he was a ‘makaanwala’ (a resident of a proper, brick house. He bluntly told me that the ‘survey’ that I was doing was of no use. And that everyone is very happy in the area; no one has any problems in the area. (Sure! – He was representing only the ‘makaanwalas’ while saying this).
The women and children of the basti area tell me that about 2 years back the ‘makaanwalas’ went to the area councilor and told him that the toilet complex was of no use to them and that it must be removed and it MUST be replaced by a beautiful park – and that is exactly what has happened. (the remains of the toilet complex are still lying in the park – broken wall parts etc.)
So, where do people from the basti area go to relieve themselves at present? None of the basti people have latrine seats at home. They either go to the forest area which is just across the road from the basti area or “lineon par jatein hain” (“we go to the railway lines”). The railways lines are (of course) very dangerous, no one is sure whether they will return home when they go to the railway lines to ‘go to the toilet’. (They told me that very recently; five people were killed, run over by a train when they had gone to the railway lines to go to the toilet). I am just imagining the plight of the girls and women; they can't go alone - as they are scared of sexual harassment and being laughed at (in case seen 'doing it' in the open on the railway lines).

ALL THE BEST to everyone!


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