New Delhi: Complaints of water scarcity in Delhi rose by 151 per cent between 2015 and 2018, with the increase being 66 per cent from 2017 to 2018 alone, a study by a voluntary group has said.
According to research by Praja Foundation, 86,637 Delhiites approached the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) with complaints about not having water. In 2015, the number was 34,554.
The water scarcity complaints filed last year constituted 54 per cent of the total water-related complaints (1.6 lakh) received by the DJB, the government agency responsible for the supply of potable water.
These 1.6 lakh complaints, in turn, were higher in number than all the grievances filed with the three municipal corporations of Delhi, which oversee civic issues.
Asked about the rise in complaints, DJB vice-chairman Dinesh Mohaniya pointed to the introduction of a helpline for customers in 2015.
“There was a helpline that we launched in 2015 for complaints and to address woes,” he said, “So, it’s only natural that the number of complaints would go up, since there is a huge difference between a helpline and complaints made through personal visits.”
The Praja report also said complaints of water contamination rose by 34 per cent from 2015 to 2018, drainage by 111 per cent, and road- and sewage-related by 46 per cent each.
Delhi ‘unable to manage waste’
One of the most alarming observations pertained to garbage, with the report pointing to a 316 per cent rise in related complaints between 2015 to 2018.
“According to reports, the waste ground in Delhi’s Ghazipur is set to be taller than the Qutub Minar by mid-next year,” Praja Foundation founder Nitai Mehta is quoted as saying in the report.
The report also notes shortcomings in the reporting mechanisms for citizens.
According to their research, in 2018, 34,098 complaints made to the DJB were found to be outside its jurisdiction and thus transferred to other departments, categorised as “other”. The NGO states that this indicates a “lack of awareness and confusion” among citizens about whom to approach for basic civic issues.
“The MCD has no mechanism for citizens to track their complaints, there is no action-taken report maintained, and there is no time-limit in which the complaints need to be solved,” Mehta says in the report, noting that it spells a “complete lack of accountability” on the part of the local government.
Suggested reforms include a complete redressal system and constant citizen feedback, as well as informing elected representatives about complaints from their constituencies.
Male-female disparity in public toilets
The report also points to the gender disparity in public toilets: According to the NGO’s research, only one of four “public toilet seats” in Delhi is for women, who comprise roughly 47 per cent of the capital’s population (Census 2011).
Under Swachh Bharat guidelines, there should be one public toilet seat for 100-400 men and one for 100-200 women. According to the Praja Foundation report, Delhi has just one public toilet seat for 3,982 men and one for 9,630 women.
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