Build toilet or face power cut, SDM tells villagers; Bhilwara collector calls step stringent, wants persuasion
‘No toilet, no electricity’ is a new idea of Bhilwara district officials to make villages open defecation free (ODF).
Jahazpur sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Kartar Singh directed electricity department officials to cut off power supply to households in Gangithala village after 15 days, if they do not construct toilets.
Only 19% of the villagers -- 322 of 1556 households -- have constructed toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission, a cleanliness drive launched on October 2, 2014. A majority of the villagers defecate in the open though officials have made them understand its harmful effects, Singh said.
“The villagers have been given 15 days’ time to construct toilets; if they do not construct toilets and defecate in the open, then power supply should be cut off,” the SDM said in an order issued to the power department on August 8. “Even after 15 days we will convince them, and if they do not agree, then power supply will be cut off.”
Bhilwara district Collector Muktanand Agarwal, however, said instead of taking such stringent measures, people need to be motivated. “Accordingly, the order of SDM has been modified and directions have been issued to not snap power supply but motivate people to construct toilets.”
Commenting on the order, Jahazpur MLA Dhiraj Gujjar said, “We are with the government on sanitation and ODF drive but threatening people is unjustified. Such moves require convincing people, creating awareness and making them understand its (sanitation) importance. We will not allow snapping of power supply as it is a basic necessity.”
The Jahazpur sub-division has 38 gram panchayats, of which 10 are 100% ODF and eight have achieved more than 50% target on toilet construction. “Gangithala has the lowest number of toilets,” Singh said.
On Friday, the SDM and his team went to the village on a morning inspection and convinced a few not to defecate in the open. He sent six villagers to police custody for resisting the drive.
Of the 384 panchayats in Bhilwara district, 190 are ODF. The district administration, which has constructed 20,000 toilets this year, has to build 1.60 lakh more to make Bhilwara ODF.
The administration launched a mobile application -- ‘Ujalo Bhilwaro’ -- a few days back to ensure regular inspection by teams against open defecation and pursue people to construct toilets. Team members have to click selfies and upload them on the application to show their presence in the assigned village.