Himachal Pradesh open defecation free State? What about migrant laborers and slums?
SHIMLA– Himachal Pradesh was recently declared as the first Open Defecation Free (ODF) State amongst the Big States Category. The government claims that all 12 districts, 78 development blocks, 3226 Panchayats and 18465 villages have been declared ODF. Government believes that it has realized the motive of ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ and the state accomplished the feat six months before the targeted date of March 2017.
Sikkim has already achieved the goal of becoming ODF, but it was in the small states category. The government boasts that it has left behind Kerala which about to be is declared ODF State soon.
However, apart from official declaration, grounds realities are mostly different. The state has counted number of homes with toilets and believes every home in Himachal now has a toilet. Also, the definition of a toilet might mean just a toilet sheet covered with discarded sacks for government.
Most of the people would believe it and feel proud over such sense of civility and sanitation. In fact, people have congratulated the government and vice-versa. People can hardly verify these facts, so they believe in newspaper headlines.
But as contrary to the claims, some sections of the society were ignored. For instance, migrant laborers in capital are still defecating in open. The ‘Pari Mahal’ hill is clear evidence. The entire hill is covered in human poop. That’s just one site. There are numerous such camps of migrant laborers throughout the State, who are not considered in this count. The condition of public toilets isn’t hidden.
The largest and most crowded bust stoppage in Shimla city, Tuti Kandi-Dhalli crossing, does not have public toilet. The administration has not provided even a single dustbin. Similarly, the MLA crossing is unattended.
Moreover, the supervision and reports were prepared by Divisional Commissioners, deputy Commissioners, Block Development Officers, field revenue officers and other sub-ordinate officials. The credibility of official stats and government officials is always doubtful. It’s the same administration that supplied sewerage contaminated drinking water to its people that had led to deadly jaundice outbreak.
These are the same government departments that claimed regular cleaning of drinking water tanks, but had been proved liars when remains of skeleton in Yug murder case were recovered from an IPH tank and a posh locality.
Photo: Punjab Kesari