CHENNAI: Loksatta Party has taken a bold step highlighting the plight of public sanitation in rural Tamil Nadu after the President’s speech in Parliament which had a major focus on rural sanitation and health.
“We must not tolerate the indignity of homes without toilets and public spaces littered with garbage. For ensuring hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the nation a ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ will be launched. This will be our tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary to be celebrated in the year 2019,” he had said, clearly emphasizing that development of villages and ensuring that every household had a toilet was a top priority for the new government.
Welcoming the move, J Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu conveyed that she had already set the target of making Tamil Nadu open defecation free by 2015 and that efforts will now be redoubled to achieve the exigent target. “Tamil Nadu looks forward for Central Government’s support in this particular case,” she said.
Jagadheeswaran and Jaiganesh, party leaders from Loksatta went on a bike campaign throughout Tamil Nadu to analyze the ground situation and create awareness about ‘Right to Service’ in the months of January and February this year. They had resolved to rest in villages every night.
Narrating the sickening experience, Jagadheeswaran said “The sanitation facilities in all the villages were appalling. A village called Puthupakkam in Kancheepuram which is just 60 kms away from Chennai had toilets built under ‘Integrated Sanitary plan’ which were unusable because of no maintenance. Another village in Kacheepuram district named Vallipuram coming under Thirukalukundram Taluk also had toilets built under the same plan but were in a hopeless condition as there were no taps. Also, the toilet was very small making it uncomfortable for one to sit.”
Conveying that the sanitary facilities in the villages were extremely pathetic, he added, “Everyone in the village had to defecate in the open. Another village in Kancheepuram district named Vallipuram coming under Thirukazhukundram Taluk also had toilets built under ‘Integrated Sanitary plan’ which were in a dismal condition as there were no taps. Also, the toilet was very small making it uncomfortable for one to sit.”
Jagadeeshwaran expressed his deep concern apropos the government’s lackadaisical approach as far as this particular issue was concerned. “Throughout the trip I saw men and women of all ages defecating in the open.
Government reports indicate that more than `500 crore have been for building and renovation of toilets across villages. However, Jagadeeshwaran feels that the money is spent unwisely and that proper benefits do not reach the village dwellers.
The 2011 census divulges the fact that while 53.2 per cent of households have a mobile phone, merely 46.9 per cent Indians have toilets and a sheer 3.2 per cent people using public toilets.