Pimpri: Vidyanagar slum in the heart of Pimpri Chinchwad is a witness to a transformation of sorts after the construction of 475 toilets, which are benefiting 600 families, who were dealing with serious sanitation issues including open defecation, stinking and stagnated open drains, infestation of mosquitoes and flies.
There are 72 slums in Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) area, which were grappling with a number of sanitation-related issues before Swachh Bharat Mission, under which open defecation free (ODF) programme was launched by the Central government.
The former corporator from the area, Ram Patre, said, "The situation of the locality has improved a lot. Construction of individual toilets, coupled with construction of underground drainage, has proved a game-changer for the area.”
The official figures show that three years back, hardly 15 per cent slum dwellers had individual toilets. Three adjacent slum pockets, namely Vidyanagar, Dattanagar and Shankarnagar, are located in the same area, which is surrounded by industrial units. The residents of these slum pockets are mostly migrated labourers from the State, as well as from other parts of the country. These three slums have a collective population of around 7,500.
Laxman Patre, one of the first beneficiaries of the scheme, said, "The condition of the locality was very bad three years ago. Most of the households did not have toilets. Community toilets in the area were not adequate in number. Since a large number of people were using these toilets, cleanliness was an issue."
Being amongst the first beneficiaries, the PCMC has asked Patre to be part of its team of 'swachhagrahis', who create awareness and prevent open defecation in the area.
Bhimraj Jagtap, sanitary supervisor of PCMC, who has the responsibility to monitor cleanliness of these three slum pockets said, "Very few people had individual household toilets three years back. Those who had toilets had connected them to open drains in absence of underground drainage lines. So, it was difficult for health workers to clean them, which was leading to many health hazards for the locals."
Sunita Gophane, a resident, said, "Till a year back, women in the locality asked their kids to sit near the open drainage lines to defecate."
Vaishali Gaikwad, a college student, said, "There would be huge queues outside the community toilet in the area before, so girls and women had to wake up during the wee hours to attend to nature's call. However, this was unsafe. Incidents of eve-teasing and molestation were reported in the area.”