While on the one hand the Delhi government is setting up low-cost mohalla clinics across the city to provide affordable medical treatment to the poor, bad sanitation in illegal colonies ensures there is no overall improvement in the health standards.
Most jhuggis (slum clusters) have built illegal toilets without any proper sewer connection, resulting in open nalas often clogged with faecal matter and filth.
A classic example can be witnessed behind Hasanpur bus depot in East Delhi’s Madhu Vihar, IP Extension area, where a JJ slum cluster is located. Of the 150 jhuggis there, very few have personal toilets, owing to lack of space. The toilets there are not connected to sewer lines, so sewage from the slum has been connected to an open stormwater drain flowing along the road connecting to Max Hospital.
But officials from the concerned government agencies — the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, the health department and the flood department (responsible for drains) — are not willing to act, and there has been no concerted action to prevent sewage from illegal colonies to collect in the main drains of the city.
In fact, this has been one of the most persistent urban issues.
Aparna Goel, municipal councillor of this area, conceded, “We are aware of the issue but can’t do anything about it, as drains and sewer lines are outside the control of the municipal corporation. Drains come under the flood department and the sewer system under Delhi Jal Board. I have, however, spoken to the concerned officials on this subject.”
In slum clusters, building private toilets is not allowed, but the Delhi government’s Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) provides public toilets for their use.
Brij Bhushan Anuragi, who has been living in the Hasanpur area for the past 25 years, told City Spidey, “We started living here around 25-30 years back as labourers for the construction of the Hasanpur depot, and then a community toilet was set up by the government. But in the past few years, people have built toilets inside their jhuggis but without any sewer connection.”
City Spidey located one such main drain opposite SRM Apartments, completely choked.
Vivian Fernadis, a resident, complained, “What’s the point of a Swachh Bharat campaign? Sewage is flowing into open drains — and nobody bothers to clean it up. These become active breeding grounds for mosquitoes. And with the rains, things turn worse. The government bodies have failed us on all counts!”