TIRUCHY: Rains over the past few days have caused havoc in the lives of people staying in the low-lying areas. For Indira Nagar residents, it has posed an additional risk in defecating as there are no toilets in the area. The community toilet, which is a 15-minute walk, is also of no big use to them as it is often crowded in the mornings and closes as early as 8 in the night, they say.
On World Toilet Day, The New Indian Express takes a look at the plight of families residing in Indira Nagar, who are forced to defecate in the open for several years now. In 2018, the government had built 16 toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission. Only six of them are functional now. There are a total of 146 houses in Indira Nagar.
Rajeshwari, a resident who got benefitted under the scheme, is batting to get more toilets in the area. She says, "I was born in this area. I used to go out in the open only. It's really sad that our kids too have to go through the same. The community toilet is situated a little far away and is used by people from four or five areas. In the mornings, there is a huge queue. I use the toilet constructed at my house under the Swacch Bharat Mission, but I want all the houses in my area to have toilets."
Beyond sanitation and safety aspects, toilet means dignity for women like Rajeshwari. Another woman resident says, "Going out in the open poses a lot of dangers. There are many snakes out there. Also, since there is a bypass nearby, lot of truck drivers pass by. They harass us and click pictures. There is no safety for women and children. Each house has at least one young girl."
Rajeshwari, with the help of Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), who have formed eight self-help groups (SHGs) with 12 women in each, are working towards eliminating open defecation. The IIHS has been conducting various awareness programmes in the area. On Friday, they conducted competitions and games for children and women to stress on the importance of toilets and sanitation.
Sugantha Priscilla, Senior Specialist - Social Development, IIHS Tiruchy, said that they were working with the Tiruchy Corporation to provide toilets in the area. "There are 130 homes that do not have toilets. First, we need to create awareness about entire sanitation value chain toilets among these people. We have done that. We are in talks with the Corporation, and they have said that toilets can be constructed under Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0," she said.
When The New Indian Express contacted a Corporation official, he said that they would take steps to construct toilets soon.