For instance, in five assembly constituencies of Chennai, the implementing authority was able to construct only 130 toilets for Harbour, RK Nagar, Egmore, Royapuram and Perambur. One of the major issues is that there is no place to construct public toilets for the landless and those with a house already have access to toilet facilities, says a senior Corporation official. Further, there are areas without drainage connections, where the project cannot be implemented.
RK Nagar wants more toilets
“To my knowledge, several families in R K Nagar, particularly those residing in slum pockets of RK Nagar, do not have toilets. Open defecation is very much there is in all the wards coming under R K Nagar,” says former RK Nagar MLA P Vettrivel. Amma promised better sanitation and hygiene, but there are houses still without water and drainage connection and declaring Chennai as an ODF city is a joke aimed to finish the project. I am aware of the constituency and I hardly remember the beneficiaries under the Swachh Bharat scheme, adds Vettrivel. “Open defecation is still practised along the tracks of Korrukupet railway station and the railway tracks near Stanley Hospital. What has been done is minimal. The project should have focused more on public toilet concept,” opines civic activist Ramadasan of north Chennai.
Public protests new community toilets in Thiruvika Nagar
Even as the state and Centre were pushing Swachh Bharat to ensure sanitation and hygiene, the project received a major blow in Ward 71 coming under Thiruvika Nagar. The public petitioned the local DMK MLA Thayagam Kavi last month to ensure that a public toilet is not constructed in Ekatheepuram in Thiru Vika Nagar. “The local residents also gheraoed a local Corporation official when he took measurements to construct a public toilet under Swachh Bharat scheme. The public opines that the community toilet poses a nuisance to them as the previous structure was misused for anti-social activities,” said MLA Kavi. I go with the public sentiment. The residents have toilets in their homes and hence their demand is correct. Further, the toilets maintained by the Corporation are not well maintained, he alleged.
Women in Todd Hunter Nagar slum maintain the toilets
Worried about the plight of the women at the Government Farm Slum in Todd Hunter Nagar who had to defecate in the open due to the lack of toilets in their homes, 42-year-old M Valli, a resident there, had taken up the initiative, with the help of a few other women, to maintain the only public toilet that is located within their slum. Realising the dire need for it to be made usable, she, along with a few other women took up the initiative to maintain the toilet. But the challenges continued. “For over a year-and-a-half I had been doing it as a service to the people in my slum. I would clean the toilets and repair the taps, lights and whatever else was required. As I did not have much money, I was unable to do my best,” said Valli.
In January, however, the Corporation requested her and a couple of other women in the slum to take up the responsibility and assured them a salary for the same. “They were giving us cheques of Rs 3,000 each for the work we were doing, however, we haven’t been paid since April. We are being taken for a ride. We have constantly been making requests. However, it seems to be falling on deaf ears,” said Valli.