Shimla April, 17; Though Himachal was declared open defecation free (ODF) by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in October last year with great fanfare and earned the distinction of becoming the first ODF state among big states, the ground realities tell a different story.
The cases of open defecation are common, especially in villages and outskirts of urban habitats. People defecate in open before dawn and after dusk and in some cases, the practice is witnessed in the households where toilets have been constructed, but adequate water supply is not available.
A glaring example has come to notice in Shakrala village in the periphery of Shimla where Suraj Verma, a resident of Mahli, has complained that it had become difficult for him to go for morning and evening walks as people were defecating in the open.
“I caught the guys and asked them why they were not using toilets to which they replied that there was only one functional toilet in the building and house owner was not allowing them to use the toilet. They said they had no option but to defecate in the open,” Verma said.Panchayat pradhan of Shakrala village Mamta said she had received complaints that the land lady was not allowing her tenants to use the toilet, forcing them to go out in the open. She asked the complainant to give a written complaint so that notice could be issued by the panchayat to the erring land lady.
However, the owner of the house refuted the allegations and claimed that there were four toilets and eight rooms and nobody defecated in the open. “Who has filed the false complaint against me? I will see the villagers and the pradhan,” she said.
While declaring the state open defecation free, the Chief Minister had said all 3,226 panchayats in 18,465 villages of 72 blocks in 12 districts of the state had been declared free of open defecation.He had said: “It was also a matter of pride that we accomplished the feat six months before the target of March 2017”.
However, former Chief Minister Shanta Kumar had also questioned the claims of the government that the state was ODF and some BJP MLAs had also doubted the authenticity of the claims made by the government.
Source: Tribune India