The issue of public toilets was treated as a basic right to live life with dignity. The women approached the National Commission for Women as well as the Delhi Commission for women and brought to their notice the threats that are regularly faced by young women and adolescent girls. The aspect of health was also raised. Consequent to this, a Public Hearing was organized, during which the National Commission for Women (NCW) as well the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) summoned the administration to explain why all public toilets had been closed. Depositions were also made by four women from Kalyanpuri, during which they drew the Jury’s attention to their plight. Janaki, a 16 year old spoke, spoke for instance, of how the lack of toilets in the area was makes teenage girls like her more vulnerable and prone to eve-teasing and molestation and added that, “it had also become an issue of safety for young girls”.
The women also met then Lt. Governor and Chief Minister, Ms. Sheila Dixit, and showed them a brief video of the pathetic condition of the toilets in Kalyanpuri, Sunlight Colony, Janta Mazdoor Colony and Tigri. The CM was supportive of the women and a consensus was reached to turn one settlement into a model in which all the services would be in place; and this could then be replicated in other areas as well.
Construction and Repair of Toilet Complex
With support from all quarters, the community succeeded in getting a block of toilets constructed in Kalyanpuri. More importantly, the community representatives were part of the entire process from budgeting and the selection of material to the supervision of the construction of the toilet.
Consequent to this, community advocates collaborated with the local administration in renovating the community toilets complexes (CTCs) in blocks 19 and 20. In July 2008, the CTCs were opened for public; thereby providing a huge respite for 2250 residents of 450 households.
Replicating the process and Reaching out to other
Encouraged by their success at Kalyanpuri, the forum members waged a battle for adjoining settlements. On May 1, 2008, they held a meeting with the Chief Engineer, JJ Slum Department, Mr. Anil Prakash and other officials from the department. During the meeting the community advocates spoke of deplorable condition of five toilets, in adjacent blocks-14 (1 toilet), block 17 (2 toilets), Khichripur (1 toilet) and block 21 (1 toilet). Following continuous pressure from the community advocates the toilets in these areas were repaired; providing respite to 250 households of block number 14, 2000 households in block 17, 200 households in Khichripur and 250 households in block 21.
Repair of Main Drain at Tigri
Meanwhile, the women’s forum in Tigri decided to take up the issue of an uncovered main drain that passed through the area which had led to many accidents, including the death of a girl who drowned in the open drain. Aasha, one of the community advocates recounted how 17 years ago, she had lost her 5-year-old daughter to the semi-covered main drain in the area. And more recently, in April 2008 another 12 year girl fell into the drain and lost her life.
The women’s forum mobilized the community and filed two RTIs. The Sanitation Department responded by inviting the community representatives to a grievance redress session. At the hearing the officials assured the community that they would redress the problem. The repair work on the main drain began soon after and the women made groups to monitor the repair work. Within a month of the commencement of the construction work, the drain was covered; bringing relief to a population of 7000 residing in 11 Blocks of Tigri.
Alongside,the Forum also got a pavement constructed along the drain in H block of Tigri, bringing relief to the pedestrians.
The Forums, took up the issue of toilet and sanitation because the majority of slum settlements were forced to defecate out in the open, owing to lack of individual or even community toilets. The Forums succeeded, through repeated submission of applications, and follow-ups with the concerned authorities of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mayor of the Municipal Corporation, in getting the department to take the necessary steps including the identification of areas for construction of toilets by the Urban Poverty Alleviation Cell of Bhubaneswar.
The Urban Poverty Alleviation Cell , in turn, submitted a detailed project report (DPR) to the state government for the construction of toilets in not just the 3 slums in CFAR’s intervention area but even others that were in the same plight.
Intervention by the forum also enabled the general population to avail of the facility of individual toilets.
The forums also dealt with the acute water shortage in Siripur and Sikharchandi, which was forcing 1590 rehabilitated families to buy containers of water for Rs. 1 and the 172 odd residents of Siripur who had to practically beg for water because there was no no access to water in their area. Following repeated requests by the forum Siripur got 2 public water taps and in Sikharchandi the foundation stone was laid for a drinking water supply project. Sikharchandi and Raghunathnagar, also got street lights installed in their area by submitting applications and following up with the respective authorities.
Bangalore: Restoring water Supply in Hawadigara Colony
Hawadigara colony was resettled by the Karnataka Slum Board. Most of the people in this community are snake charmers.
The Bangalore Water Supply and Sanitation Board (BWSSB) paid no heed to repeated requests of the community advocates and volunteers. Exasperated by the indifferent attitude of the department, the women’s forum decided to organize a public hearing in their area on the issue of availability of basic services. In July the women’s forum managed to get officials from BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sanitation Board), the Slum Board and the local secretary of the area to attend the public hearing.
The community members poured out their grievance at the hearing.
Parvatamma, a resident and a community advocate asked, “There are ten people living in my house and since there is no water supply we have to fetch the water from the public toilet by paying Re 1 for a pot of water; and this water is hazardous for health. We shell out Rs300 – 400 a month for water. We are daily wagers; if we have to buy water what do we eat sir?”
The community advocates and volunteers did not stop at raising queries. They surrounded the officials and compelled them to undertake an on the spot inspection of the area. With the community pressure building every minute, the officials had little option but to commit themselves.
After a wait of seven years water supply and electricity is restored
Within 5 days of the hearing, from July 28, 2008, onwards, bore wells were dug in the area and water supply was restored and after a wait of 7 years people in this area were able to avail of free drinking water. Thanks to the constant struggle of the women’s forum residents of all 319 households of Hawadiagra colony now have both drinking water supply and legal power connections in their houses.
At the public hearing, BWSSB Officer Mr. Rudramuni said that until and unless a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) was obtained from the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board (KSCB) is got BWSSB could not clean the drains. Consequent to this the Forum members made several visits to the Slum board office and managed to meet the Commissioner, KSCB. They told him of the unclean, overflowing drains in the area. After hearing them out the Commissioner told them that the NOC could be obtained from the AEE of the concerned division. In other words Commissioner did not pay heed to the grievances of the people of the area.
Generating Political Will
Having failed to get an administrative response on their plight, the forum members decided to met the MLA of their Constituency. The MLA heard them out and passed on the letter of request and application for NOC to the Slum Board, following which the Forum members met the AE of the area and managed to get the NOC, Finally, in December, the NOC was obtained from Nagbhusan, the AEE of the area.
Outcome: Regular Cleaning of Drains,
Having obtained the NOC of Slum Board, the forum members immediately sent in an application, with a recommendation letter of the MLA, to BWSSB for cleaning of the drains. Within a month of submitting the letter after the BWSSB sweepers began the process of cleaning the drains. Initially, the BWSSB workers cleaned only the 5 main drains in the area and refused to touch the other drains. Undeterred the forum members once again put in a letter and met with the AEE, following which other drains in the area were cleaned. Now the drains are being cleaned at regular intervals.
Success stories replicated
Similar public hearings, led by the women’s forums, and the use of the Right to Information Act has enabled forums across settlements in Bangalore to ensure that basic amenities are available in their settlements.
For instance, forums at Hawadigara Colony and Sanjay Gandhi Nagar got the BBMP Commissioner to depute dedicated sweepers and garbage vans for cleaning up their settlements.
Following an application from the forum the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has provided drinking water connection to 100 houses in Sanjay Gandhi Nagar.
In Kaveri Nagar two new bore-wells and two additional water tanks were provided by the BWSSB to ensure proper water supply for its 242 odd residents. All the households have also been given legal electric connections, their main road was concretized and proper drainage lines were laid.
In the same way, Hosabanulagar is being resurveyed by the Slum Board for the construction of more community toilets following a public hearing.
Water supply was restored in two Aangnawdis and street lights were installed in Sanjay Gandhi Nagar.
Construction of a Boundary Wall around the main Drain in JP Colony, Ward No. 66
J.P. Colony is located in the northern outskirts part of the Jaipur city; under Ward number 66 of Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC). One of the major concerns for the people of J.P. Colony was that an open drain, which is the main waste outlet for the entire city passed through the middle of their settlement. The drain known as ‘Aminishah Nullah’ was initially a river which had over time become a drain. The 45 kms long and 70 meters wide drain had neither a cover nor was any kind of boundary wall around it. This meant that children, while playing near it ran the risk of falling into the drain. Moreover the residents had to live with the stench and filth and during the monsoon the filthy water would overflow into their homes.
The Women’s Forum submitted no less than five written application to the MLA of ward number 66 and also made six visits to his office. Each time the MLA office assured the women that action would be taken; but to no avail. Finally in response to continuous pressure from the women’s forum of J.P. Colony, the MLA office itself got in touch with the forum members.
On the insistence of the women’s forum, the MLA and the CEO of JMC held an interface meeting with the residents. At the meeting the CEO promised to issue written orders for construction of a 5feet wall with a budget of Rs. 20 lakhs to be constructed around the drain crossing J.P. Colony. Within a month of the orders being issued by the CEO, construction of the wall around the drain begun and now the wall is complete.
This construction of a boundary wall around the 1.5 Kms. feet drain in J.P.Colony has meant a better life in monsoons for a population of 2500 in Ward number 66.
Garbage Disposal at Manoharpura Kacchi Basti
Manoharpura Kachi Basti is situated in ward number 24. There are a total of 600 households in the area and a population of 2200. One of the many concerns of the area was that of garbage disposal. Repeated written complaints by the forums had failed to generate any kind of response from the concerned department.
To address this concern, the women members made an effort to meet the supervisor of the area, but he remained inaccessible. The next step for the women was to approach the Zone Municipal Officer, but he paid no need. The forum then met the Zone Commissioner.
In response the Zone Commissioner sent two senior officials to Manoharpura Kachi Basti for an inspection. The forum members made them see every corner of the slum where garbage was accumulated. Following the visit the officials assured that the area will be cleaned up immediately and proper containers will be given where people can dump their garbage. Within two days of the visit the drains were cleaned, and four sweepers appointed in the area