From Gandhigiri to threatening jail, several Uttar Pradesh districts have declared a war against open defecation.
Officials in Mathura have created an internal WhatsApp group where they will circulate photograph of ‘offenders being garlanded’ to keep a track of those who defecate in the open.
In Agra, the new steps to end the menace are: first time offenders will be garlanded to embarrass them but repeated violations could land them in jail along with fines ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 2,500.
Kanpur school children will ring a bell or beat metallic plates on seeing a person carrying a ‘lota’ – a specific kind of pot that people carry to fields – who appear to be going to defecate in the open.
A report from Bareilly said those defecating in the open in Lodhipur village of Shahjahanpur district will be “disturbed and shamed” by volunteers who will blow whistles and make noises pointing towards the ‘offender’.
Open defecation poses a major concern for hygiene and even safety after a number of women have been attacked when they went to fields to relieve themselves.
The problem is rooted in poverty, with many unable to build lavatories.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, chief development officer (CDO), Mathura, Manish Kumar Verma said government officials and employees have been tasked to movearoundinspecificareasinthe morningandeveningtokeepavigil on those defecating in the open, and persuade them to not do so.
“Those going for open defecation are presented flowers or garlanded and asked to not defecate in the open, even as some officials click their photographs and post them on the WhatsApp group,” said Verma. He also clarified that photographs will not be clicked while any one is defecating.
He said in the first phase efforts were on to make 18 villages of Mathura free of open defecation by April 15.
Similarly, in Agra, district magistrate Pankaj Kumar has issued instructions to officials to make all villages in the district open defecation free by August 15 this year.
Officials said those who did not have toilets in their house would have to get the same constructed using their own money. Once the construction was complete, they could claim Rs 12,000 from the government.