Mohammed Shabbeer is a construction worker. He lives with his family of six in a tent, under the flyover in Vasant Kunj area of New Delhi. He shares this small area with over 150 people. The space they live on, can be hardly called a house It is more like pieces of old clothes wrapped around grills.The area is divided into small quarters with walls made of torn up clothes.
There is no bedroom, no kitchen and there are no toilets.All the men go to the nearest garbage site to relieve themselves in the morning And all the women to the nearest “sulabh shauchalya”(Public toilet). They need to pay Rs. 2 every morning to use the toilet and Rs.10 to use bathroom .If they want to wash clothes, another Rs. 10 note need to be paid. Children use divider on the roads to defecate.”I’m living here for 35 years and It has always been this way.Because we can’t afford to pay ever day for using a toilet.We can only afford to pay for our wives and daughters .Why to blame the government when even god has abandoned us.”Says shabbier.When asked if he blames government for this.
All the men in this population of 150 are either construction workers or hawkers. With average income ranging from Rs 200 to Rs 400 a day, only if they get work.In such a situation either they can pay for food or for toilets.The thing which is most basic requirement for other Delhites,is a luxury for people like shabbeer. On one side there is Prime Minister’s ambitious scheme Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan,which says “Jahan soch vaha shauchalya”.And aims to make India open-defecation free by 2019.On the other side there is this part of urban India,which hardly has access to toilets.
The government is putting emphasis on the importance of construction of toilets in rural India.But there is not much thought given ,on how to make toilets affordable for urban population.Which is not capable to build individual toilet.Or has no land to get one constructed by the government.When you don’t own land ,you can’t possibly get a toilet. All the slum dwellers and people like shabbeer are compelled to use the community toilets. Which are not really clean and hygienic and if they are clean,not everyone can afford to pay, for using them.
In such situation,they are left with no choice but to defecate in open.Government claims that it has achieved construction of 1,14,221 community toilets in various cities.And there are 511 cities which are 100% open-defecation free. But the government’s claim still needs to be examined.Since,reality does not consolidate the data provided by the government.There is certainly much more which needs to be done to achieve 100%.