Photos: PM Modi’s open-defecation free claims draw scepticism

UPDATED ON OCT 03, 2019 06:34 PM IST
A woman walks on train tracks near young girls squatting in an area where people defecate in the open near Nizamuddin railway station in New Delhi, on September 27, 2019. Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared rural India open-defecation free (ODF) on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi yesterday. Experts, however, are of the view that millions still lack access to a toilet and many of the new facilities are unused. (Prakash Singh / AFP)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi during his address, at Sabarmati Ashram, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on Wednesday. ‘Rural India and villages today have declared itself open-defecation free. I especially thank all the volunteers, sarpanchs (village chiefs) and all the others involved with the mission,” Modi told a gathering of 20,000 village chiefs. (ANI)
Buses of village heads are seen parked outside the venue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s function. The PM made the declaration by pressing the button of a remote, unveiling the map of India as ODF. Simultaneously, the website of the Swachh Bharat Mission- Gramin, which caters to rural India, reported toilet cover to be 100%. (Sam Panthaky / AFP)
Men urinate outside of a locked public toilet on a street in Amritsar, Punjab. “Latrine ownership increased from about 35 percent to about 70 percent... That did accelerate the reduction of open defecation,” said Sangita Vyas from the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (RICE). “But in December 2018 we estimated about half of people in the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan still defecated in the open,” she said. (Narinder Nahu / AFP)
A man defecating in an open area near Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station in New Delhi. Vyas doubts the shortfall has been made up since. Those four states are home to more than 450 million people. For instance across from Modi’s office in New Delhi, Vijaya has just relieved herself next to the tracks near Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station early in the morning as she doesn’t have access to toilet. (Prakash Singh / AFP)
A resident checks his phone as he waits to use a public toilet on a street in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Many of the toilets that have been constructed are not being used and it is not unusual for them to be locked, used for storage, or some other purpose. (Arun Sankar / AFP)
A man walks to defecate in an open area near Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station. Rekha, 26, a mother-of-two who lives in a makeshift tent in the north Delhi district of Bawana, says the nearest toilet facility isn’t working. The other one, she says, costs women three rupees to use. Since she and her husband earn 10-12,000 rupees a month sifting through rubbish, they can’t always afford it. (Prakash Singh / AFP)
“If you’re going to change the behaviour of rural folk on a sustainable, long term, permanent basis, the only way you’re going to be able to do it would be by first focusing on behaviour change,” said Santosh Mehrotra, a development economist at JNU. “In the process of the target-driven, numbers-driven strategy of the programme, the terms ‘having toilets’ and the village becoming ‘open defecation free’ have become interchangeable. They are not,” Mehrotra said. (Prakash Singh / AFP)

A woman walks on train tracks near young girls squatting in an area where people defecate in the open near Nizamuddin railway station in New Delhi, on September 27, 2019. Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared rural India open-defecation free (ODF) on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi yesterday. Experts, however, are of the view that millions still lack access to a toilet and many of the new facilities are unused. (Prakash Singh / AFP)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi during his address, at Sabarmati Ashram, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on Wednesday. ‘Rural India and villages today have declared itself open-defecation free. I especially thank all the volunteers, sarpanchs (village chiefs) and all the others involved with the mission,” Modi told a gathering of 20,000 village chiefs. (ANI)

Buses of village heads are seen parked outside the venue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s function. The PM made the declaration by pressing the button of a remote, unveiling the map of India as ODF. Simultaneously, the website of the Swachh Bharat Mission- Gramin, which caters to rural India, reported toilet cover to be 100%. (Sam Panthaky / AFP)

Men urinate outside of a locked public toilet on a street in Amritsar, Punjab. “Latrine ownership increased from about 35 percent to about 70 percent... That did accelerate the reduction of open defecation,” said Sangita Vyas from the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (RICE). “But in December 2018 we estimated about half of people in the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan still defecated in the open,” she said. (Narinder Nahu / AFP)

A man defecating in an open area near Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station in New Delhi. Vyas doubts the shortfall has been made up since. Those four states are home to more than 450 million people. For instance across from Modi’s office in New Delhi, Vijaya has just relieved herself next to the tracks near Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station early in the morning as she doesn’t have access to toilet. (Prakash Singh / AFP)

A resident checks his phone as he waits to use a public toilet on a street in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Many of the toilets that have been constructed are not being used and it is not unusual for them to be locked, used for storage, or some other purpose. (Arun Sankar / AFP)

A man walks to defecate in an open area near Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station. Rekha, 26, a mother-of-two who lives in a makeshift tent in the north Delhi district of Bawana, says the nearest toilet facility isn’t working. The other one, she says, costs women three rupees to use. Since she and her husband earn 10-12,000 rupees a month sifting through rubbish, they can’t always afford it. (Prakash Singh / AFP)

“If you’re going to change the behaviour of rural folk on a sustainable, long term, permanent basis, the only way you’re going to be able to do it would be by first focusing on behaviour change,” said Santosh Mehrotra, a development economist at JNU. “In the process of the target-driven, numbers-driven strategy of the programme, the terms ‘having toilets’ and the village becoming ‘open defecation free’ have become interchangeable. They are not,” Mehrotra said. (Prakash Singh / AFP)

About The Gallery

Yesterday, on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared rural India open-defecation free, meeting the deadline he had set for the flagship government scheme when he first swept to power in 2014. However, experts say millions still lack access to a toilet, and that because of old habits many of the tens of millions of the new facilities that have been built are not even being used. The government claims to have built almost 100 million toilets in the past five years, but many people continue to defecate in the open.

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