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'Vibrant' Ahmedabad?: Survey shows 78% slumdwellers are without toilet, forcing people to defecate in open

State of Ahmedabad slums
By Rajiv Shah
A recent survey of Ahmedabad’s two slum settlement colonies, Shankarbhuvan and Nagorivad, both of them situated in the old city area, go a long way to expose the loud claims of “clean" or "swachh" Gujarat by the state’s powerful authorities. Carried out by two non-government organizations (NGOs), Manav Garima and Human Development and Research Centre, the survey suggests that in the two slum settlements surveyed, out of a total of 1,447 households, 63 per cent of households (916) do not have toilets.
On the other hand, those households which do have toilets (531), 216 households do not use them because they are “unusable”, which means that 78 per cent of the total population in the two slum areas – about 7,500 – go in the open for defecation, forcing the cleaning staff to “clean up the narrow streets manually”, said Jitendra Rathod, a senior activist of Janvikas, the NGO which supports Manav Garima.
Rathod said, “Shortage of water supply, on one hand, and extremely poor sewerage lines in the two slum areas, on the other, force individuals not to use toilets wherever they are there, as the gutter lines are more often than not found to be choked up.” Thus, as many as 40 per cent of the households, or 582, do not have any access to water supply, while 19 per cent households (279) do not have any drainage facility.
The survey further suggests that of the 916 households which do not have toilets, as many as 65 per cent or 599 households have space for constructing toilets. However, there are 35 per cent of the houseolds (317) which do not have any space where toilets could be constructed. According to Rathod, “From these data, it is possible to determine the total number of toilets, water and drainage facilities, other infrastructure to be provided.”
The survey exposes the claim of the Gujarat government about cent per cent power connection. As many 14 per cent households (197) remain in the dark at night, as they are even today devoid of any electricity. The survey, it is reliably learnt, has been handed over to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), which has “promised” to bring about necessary changes. “Officials have told us that they are already on the move, and beginning to beginning to bring about a change”, a Manav Garima activist said.
“From community observations and interviews, it has been noted that, overall, main drainage system that is currently in place does not function properly, and is the main reason why individual households do not use the facilities”, Rathod said, adding, “It was also found that availability of adequate water is a serious issue in both the areas.”
The survey concludes, “It is possible to begin construction of individual toilets in households where space is available. At the same time, water supply should be increased and the drainage system expanded. If required, a new drainage system should be put in place. While it is necessary to educate and change the behaviour of the community, this would depend on the availability of individual toilets, adequate water supply and proper drainage system, otherwise people will continue to defecate in the open.”

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