In a change of tack to get rid of the problem of open defecation in the district, the administration has decided to form ‘vigilante groups’ of ordinary residents that would stand watch for two hours in the morning and an hour in the evening to ‘shame’ people into refraining from the practice. The administration has set April 15 as the target date for making Panchkula free of open defecation. Officials would also be sent to villages to create awareness on the issue.
“Earlier, our approaches have been subsidy-driven that we will fund the construction of toilet in a household. Now, we want to focus on changing the habit. The idea is to convince people about it. Research shows that once an area is declared free of open defecation, health parameters improve. Our approach would not be coercive,’ said Panchkula deputy commissioner Mandip Brar. He clarified that vigilante groups will be among the people only.
Brar added that the ‘movement’ that started from March 1 is quite important and it was possible in small district like Panchkula.
A 5-day workshop at Mansa Devi Temple Complex has been going on in Panchkula where trainers are teaching elected panchayat representatives and teachers on techniques for changing people’s behavior in this regard.
“It is an ambitious target. We are trying to make a difference. I am confident that things can improve,” he said.
“We are training people who would go into the villages and make those indulging in open defecation feel guilty and embarrassed.,” said additional deputy commissioner Hema Sharma.
“The figures have improved. However, we have observed that people had got toilets constructed to use the subsidy and have been using them as stores,” said Sharma.
No relief in Panchkula
29% - Households without latrine facility
2% - Of this population uses public toilets
27% - Defecate in the open
In rural Panchkula, 56% households do not have latrine facility and almost all such people defecate in open.
(Source Census 2011)