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Motia Khan Slums: Public Toilets Crucial Factor in Search for Suitable Grooms

“The nearest toilet closes at 10:30 PM after which we are forced to defecate in open near garbage station,” Lajwanti, a resident of the Punjabi Academy slums said.
delhi slums

What can be the possible connection between lack of proper toilets and marriages? The women of Punjabi Academy slums in Motia Khan in the national capital have a common complaint to anyone who visit them in the narrow lanes of the area known for its recycling units. Babli (45), who has been living in the slums for the last 20 years, said in a grudging tone that the residents of the slums are facing difficulties in finding suitable grooms and brides for their young children.

She said, “Our children are working now and of marriageable age, but no one is willing to tie the knot with them as we are living in an area which does not have the space for a proper toilet.”

A similar complaint is flagged by Geeta (65) who argued that her daughters and son-in-laws now rarely visit her during festivals or any other family events. “Where should I take my daughter in the night if she wishes to attend her nature’s call. The nearest toilet closes at 10:30 PM after which we are forced to defecate in open near garbage station. Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks about Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, but do our daughters not deserve respect and dignity?” she asked, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Also Read: Slum Dwellers Have a Right to City: Delhi High Court

Another slum dweller, Lajwanti strikes her hard-hitting question, “Are we not humans? Every time drains get flooded, we are the ones to clean it. Our children are constantly exposed to infection and diseases. No person from the municipal corporation ever visit us to take stock of the situation. Since the elections are approaching, we are requesting the leaders to spend a day with us to know our misery.” She also refused to acknowledge the claim of Aam Aadmi Party building 22,000 toilets in the last 4 years. She asked. “If they really built so many toilets, then why there is not even a single one in our locality?"

Amidst hustle bustle, Kamla Devi (70) showed her 5x5 feet room which is barely enough for sleeping. Recalling her earlier days, she said, “I am living in the slum from the time when Sanjay Gandhi was killed in an aeroplane accident in Safadarjung Area. The conditions have only worsened after my family expanded. Am I asking too much if I want a proper toilet and safe environment? Our girls get molested when they go to the toilet on road."

Sudheer Sharma alias Baba Crazy, an artist who has been involved with the community in its demand for a new community toilet said that the slum dwellers are also citizens who have the Right to Life granted by the Constitution. He told NewsClick, “Consistent denial of sanitation facilities only proves that they are living illegally. If they are living illegally, why do the authorities not lock them in jails? At least, they will receive a proper toilet and hygienic and nutritious food.”

He added, “This community which comprises migrant labours from Bihar, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. They hardly earn their livelihood. In this situation, you are asking them to pay for toilet visits. Is it not inhuman?”

NewsClick tried to reach Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Member of Parliament from Chandni Chowk as well as Delhi Urban Improvement Shelter Board, however, calls remained unanswered.

Read More: Urban Poor Have Set Agenda for 2019 Elections

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