DDA’s initiative to instal portable bio-toilets in parks across the sub-city, as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, now seems like a criminal waste of government funds.
Damaged portacabins, meant to serve as toilets, can be seen lying in disuse in several parks.
The portacabin toilet in the Sector 7 park in June 2016
All DDA parks of 5 acres or more had to get state-of-the-art bio-toilets. Hundred such toilets were meant to be constructed, and the Dwarka zone constructed 70. The cost of each single-seater toilet was approximately a lakh.
But now some can be seen lying broken on the ground, while a few others have already been dismantled. The park in Sector 7, behind Brahma Apartments, is a case in point.
On the failure of the project, president of Dwarka Forum, Madhuri Varshney, says, “Funds were not utilised properly. The DDA installed the bio-toilets but took no care of them. The idea was excellent, but DDA put the project on the backburner.”
Environmental expert and resident of Harmony Apartments, Sector 4, Arvind Rudra, speaks about why such toilets are a great choice but require a good deal of technical supervision. He explains, “These toilets require very little water and dispose of excreta in an eco-friendly way. The faecal matter goes into a tank, where bacteria act on the sludge. What is left is odourless water that can be used on plants. But these bacteria die if the right conditions are not met — for instance, if there's excessive water. So for the bio-toilets to be a success, a lot of technical awareness is required on the part of the officials.”
The condition of the Sector 7 bio-toilet in January 2017
Rudra blames poor planning by DDA for the project’s failure. He says, “It was an experiment, and for any experiment to succeed, a good deal of planning is required. This was never done! It’s really unfortunate that such a great initiative failed so badly. The authorities must do their homework before taking up experimental projects such as this one.”
City Spidey got in touch with DDA for its views on the matter. It came to know that the authorities had decided remove all such toilets from the parks.
A dismantled toilet, with the tank structure beside it missing
An official, on condition of anonymity, said, “This was indeed an ambitious project. It was initially conceptualised by the Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] for jawans in high-altitude areas. It was accepted by DDA as a green initiative, but it didn’t sit well with community requirements.”