World Toilet Day – Incentives to Village Panchayats
Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 @ 9:48PM
World Toilet Organization committed to improving toilet and sanitation conditions worldwide declared its founding day, 19 November, as World Toilet Day. As per the reports, 1000 children died per day from diarrhoeal diseases due to poor sanitation in 2013. Clean and safe toilets help keep more girls in school and increase attendance rates. Far too many girls miss out on education just because of the lack of a clean and safe toilet. The 2015 Millennium Development Goal target on sanitation remains the most off-track of all the MDG goals. Every $1 spent on water and sanitation generates returns of $8 in saved time, increased productivity and reduced health costs.
The President of India in his Speech in Parliament this year said, “We must not tolerate the indignity of homes without toilets and public spaces littered with garbage. For ensuring hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the nation a “Swachh Bharat Mission” will be launched. This will be our tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary to be celebrated in the year 2019.”
The then CM of Tamil Nadu who welcomed this stated, “I have set a more ambitious target of Tamil Nadu becoming Open Defecation Free by 2015 and we will redouble our efforts to achieve this challenging goal and look forward to Government of India’s support.”
Lets have a look at the ground level reality of open defecation in Tamil Nadu. Loksatta Party Leaders Mr. Jagadheeswaran & Mr. Jaiganesh who were on a Bike Campaign throughout Tamil Nadu to create awareness about Right to Service in the months of Jan & Feb 2014 resolved to rest in villages every night.
Narrating his experience Mr. Jagadheeswaran said “The sanitation facilities in all the villages were shocking to us. To name a few, a village called Puthupakkam in Kancheepuram which is just 60 kms away from Chennai had toilets built under “Integrated Sanitary plan” which were unusable because of no maintenance. Everyone in the village had to defecate in the open. Another village in Kacheepuram district named Vallipuram coming under Thirukalukundram Taluk also had toilets built under “Integrated Sanitary plan” which were in an unusable condition as there were no taps and the space built for the toilet was so small making it very uncomfortable for one to sit. Our next stop was at Kiliyur village in Villupuram district where the toilets which were built previously had undergone renovation but kept locked so that nobody can actually use it. We then proceeded to Killai, which is a Fishermen village in Cuddalore district where there were no toilets at all. It was the same case in Keechankuppam village in Nagai District”
”Throughout the trip in all the villages where we stayed all the people – men, women of all ages defecated in the open. It shows that the Govt doesn’t care about the maintenance, there were rampant corruption in building toilets and there is water scarcity as well,” Mr. Jagadheeswaran added.
Govt has spent more than 500 crores for building and renovation. But all that money is spent unwise because of the reasons mentioned above.In such a scenario, the Tamil Nadu Govt’s ambitious goal is ridiculous and preposterous.
The latest Indian Census data for 2011 has confirmed that that while 53.2% of households have a mobile phone, only 46.9% Indians have toilets. According to the figures, 49.8% of the population defecate in open with a sheer 3.2% people who use public toilets.
As the percent of those who use public toilets is very low, Loksatta Party suggests two solutions to address this issue – Integrated Sanitary plans can be made successful by Decentralization (and district governments) thereby curbing corruption and making the implementation more efficient. Again water scarcity could be a issue. Government should come forward to build more Composting Toilets which takes care of the water issue and also which can be used as humanure. Also on the awareness part the Govt’s role doesn’t stop just with drawing wall pictures but also should ensure that the Village Panchayats has a bigger role to play in stopping open defecation by decentralizing powers. Also we propose that villages which gets rid of Open Defecation must be given huge incentives.
Also it will be more ambitious to build house-hold toilets rather than Integrated ones as it will increase toilet usage and makes the maintenance easy.
The Supreme Court in a recent directive has said “Separate toilets and drinking water facilities are essential for basic human rights that enhance the atmosphere where the education is imparted. It can also be put in the compartment of basic needs and requirements in schools.” However the reality in Tamil Nadu is appalling. As per the latest ASER survey report, only 77% of schools in Tamil Nadu have useable toilets and only 67% schools in Tamil Nadu have separate useable toilets for girls. Loksatta Party demands that the Tamil Nadu government should take this as priority and ensure that all the schools in the state have Toilet and Drinking water facilities.