Uttar Pradesh was declared as an Open Defecation Free (ODF) state by the government. The base was that the government has managed to build enough toilets that they call ‘Izzat Ghar’ for the people. However, the government’s claim stands a crystal clear lie after talking to many villagers in Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh and visiting hundreds of toilets built by Pradhan under Swachh Bharat Mission.
After winning the election in 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to secure the izzat (respect) of women through building toilets for everyone to make sure people are not defecating in the open. For this, he did not just make a promise, but went a step ahead and has been releasing funds for building toilets. However, the amount for building a toilet is so small that a better and durable toilet can’t be built by it.
“We receive only Rs. 12,000 for building a toilet. We build toilets out of the amount of money we get. We know that it is not enough for building a better toilet, but what can we do about it?” said Athar Khan, Pradhan, Delhi Mubarakpur, Sultanpur.
In a village called Pure Gajadhar Tiwari, Dubeypur, Sultanpur, three toilets were built in a row. Wherein no door was there in one toilet, some garbage was dumped on the toilet seat. According to the villagers, the toilets were built just 8-9 months ago.
“The door was so thin that it was broken after using it for a couple of weeks. The toilet seat gets filled with water and waste soon because the septic tank is not deep enough to last for a longer time. We have our private toilet so we don’t go out. But, there are many in the village who defecate in open in the farm in the early morning and late-night when it is dark,” said Santosh Kumar Tiwari.
Another village in Kurwar, Sultanpur, called Dharawa has been facing the same issue since the last three years. The toilets that were built more than one year ago are now unusable for the villagers. Tabassum Shaikh showed a toilet which is nearby his house. The toilet’s septic tank is so full that the waste has come out of the seat.
“It’s been for about a year now. The condition is the same. That is why we don’t use it and go out to do (defecate),” said Tabassum. When asked if she approached the local Pradhan, she replied, “the pradhan has been assuring us for a new toilet but we are yet to get another one,” she further added that many toilets that were built by Pradhan have been turned into this condition in the village.
While talking to Tabassum a woman came and said, “I have been approaching the Pradhan for a toilet for three years. However, I still don’t have one. I have a ration card and Aadhaar Card. I have submitted my documents many times,” told Rabiya Bano while showing her own ration card. When asked where she does go to release herself, she replied, “We go in the farm field when it’s dark,” while looking on the floor.
A school in the village also did a survey in 2018 and found the same. However, nothing much changed since then. According to the survey, about 50% per cent villagers in Dharawa defecate in open because both the built toilets are unusable and many don’t even have toilets. The survey was done in 300 families in the village.
A teacher, on the condition of anonymity, told that they talked to local pradhan on the shoddy work of toilets. “The Pradhan assured us that he will do something about it but nothing has happened so far,” said the teacher.
A villager from Dharawa on a condition of anonymity said that if the state government will do an authentic survey on this then local Pradhan will be in trouble. Many villages are not Open Defecation Free in Sultanpur.
Another village in Bhaie, Sultanpur has a hilarious story of izzat ghar/ toilets. A toilet was built by pradhan for a family but it has no door. When asked, a villager, Surendra Kumar, told that someone from the Pradhan’s family had passed away and that is why the construction work of the toilet stopped there only.
“It has been 7-8 months since then the pradhan did not attach the door with it. The toilet goes unused,” said Surendra Kumar. He also said there are many toilets built by Pradhan that go unused because septic tanks are just a meter deep which makes the toilet unusable as filthy water gets overflowed on the toilet seats and outside the toilet also.
When contacted the Dharawa village Pradhan Isharat Khan, he said there is no permission to repair or build new toilets if existing toilets are dilapidated and unusable. He refused to talk further on why many families are yet to get izzat ghar (toilets) in the village.
This is the story of every village in Sultanpur district. Which makes it clear that Uttar Pradesh is not an Open Defecation Free state at all. If the government really wants the Uttar Pradesh state to be Open Defecation Free then the government should increase the amount of money they are dedicating for building a toilet. Moreover, a thorough survey of all the villages should be done before declaring the state Open Defecation Free.
This is not the story of only Sultanpur, but every district. That is I am running a campaign where I will be revealing the truth behind the Open Defecation Free cities in Uttar Pradesh.
If your village also has the same issue then contact 9029194433. You can message me on WhatsApp on the same number.