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Open defecation continues in locality visited by Amit Shah

Civic authorities in damage control mode, transport community toilets to the area in trolleys

bhopal Updated: Aug 22, 2017 19:35 IST
Neeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Open defecation,amit shah,bjp
A team of Bhopal Municipal corporation putting up community toilet near house of Kamal Singh Uike where BJP president Amit Shah had lunch on Sunday, in Sewania Gond near Suraj Nagar in Bhopal, India, on Monday, August 21, 2017. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

Madhya Pradesh government’s tall claims about having achieved open defecation free status earlier this year for Bhopal, the second cleanest city in India, have been exposed with BJP national president Amit Shah having lunch at a tribal hutment in Bhopal’s ward 26 on Sunday, where no toilet was found.

For a reality check, HT visited different areas of ward 26 on Monday early morning and found that many people were still defecating in the open as they had no toilets at their homes. Overnight the local civic authorities swung into action and damage control mode. They started transporting mobile community toilets into the area near tribal Kamal Singh Uike’s house and initiated a fresh house to house survey for knowing the status of the household toilets in the area.

Few dozen metres away from the house of the tribal where Shah had lunch, the civic authorities were bringing community toilets in trolleys and setting them up on the slope of the hillock used by many people for open defecation.

“Nearly a year ago, Bhopal Municipal Corporation had put these community toilets here. Elderly women like me, who used to go for open defecation earlier, would use these as they were safe and ensured our privacy. But few months back they were removed from the spot. Surprisingly, this morning they have been brought back there”, said 50-plus Parvati Jatav at Sewaniya Gond in ward 26.

People in the two main areas of the ward 26-Suraj Nagar and Sewaniya Gond-told HT that last year following a survey and filing of applications for subsidized toilet construction to Bhopal Municipal Corporation, contractors were used by the civic authorities to get the toilets constructed.

“No money was transferred in our accounts. We had to dig the toilet pits on our own. As this area is partly hilly with rock boulders beneath, it took Rs 2000 to Rs 4000 to get these pits dug out. We had to hire labour”, said farmer Mahadev Gour from Suraj Nagar.

While moving in ward 26, which has hilly-terrain encircled by lush fields towards the outer boundary, HT found people with water bottles either coming back or going out for open defecation. “The construction of my toilet is yet to be completed. So I am going into fields for defecation”, said Damodar Chatse at Suraj Nagar

The mood was gloomy at tribal Kamal Singh Uike’s house. Uike was visibly shaken. He was giving details to some BMC officials, who were questioning him. His mother told HT that officials had visited them on Sunday late evening and met his son. Uike said officials sought in writing from him why toilet was not constructed in his house.

“I wrote that as there was no space in my house, the toilet couldn’t be constructed. We use toilet of one of our relatives living in the vicinity”. But when HT questioned him why had he then applied for construction of the toilet, he had no satisfactory answer. HT found that many of Uike’s relatives living nearby had no toilets, even when they had space.

BMC’s assistant health officer Dinesh Pal, who had been sent to ward 26 this morning, told HT that the survey had been initiated to check the status of household toilet construction in the area. “In this ward, nearly 1600 toilets have been constructed. There are some who don’t have toilets as they either don’t have space for its construction or they have not deposited Rs 1375 contributory amount to be deposited upfront before the construction of toilet is approved. Construction of a toilet costs around Rs 13000”, he said.

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 19:35 IST