Bhopal: Open defecation in Madhya Pradesh is a major problem, to fight this the administration is taking many steps. One such example is from Raisen district where 13 villages have been fined Rs 4 lakh for practicing open defecation, whereas Rs 2 lakh has been collected from one village alone – Sanchi. A total of 214 villages has been fined with Rs 50 lakh. However, the villagers say that they can not fill the amount and they will continue to practice open defecation.
Sumeer Singh Meena of Ambevadi says in anger: we will give the government Rs. 14,000, if they can prove that toilets can be made in that small amount. It takes Rs. 80,000 to build a nice toilet, what they have done is simply imposed a penalty for practising open defecation, but we don’t have a choice. We don’t have that much of money, what should we do.
In Ambai, 18-year-old Jitendra works in Bhopal. When he came home, he found that his family has been fined Rs 37,500. But still there is a compulsion to go out and defecate in the open, they don’t have a choice. His family doesn’t even have Rs 12, 000 to construct a toilet.
In many houses of Ambaiwdi toilets have been constructed, householders are also using them, but in addition to making toilets in Rs 12,000, there is a big problem which is the shortage of water.
“The problem is not money but water for us. The toilets have been constructed three months ago but still, our family practices open defecation simply because there is a shortage of water,” says Gajendra Ahirwar.
Out of 214 villages of Sanchi, 12 panchayats have been declared free from open defecation, but in the rest of the villages, people are still practicing open defecation. The fine has been reduced to about Rs 50 lakh. The administration says that the penalty is like a token but if families will not give that money then strict actions against them will be taken.
It is a step taken so as all the villages can attain the tag of ODF on priority. Everyone will have to give the penalty under Madhya Pradesh’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. We are charging Rs. 250 from per person, if people will not submit the fines then strict actions will be taken, said District Panchayat CEO Shobhat Tripathi.
Even then people say that they will practice open defecation as they don’t have a choice.
“It is not possible for the poor families to make toilets for Rs. 12,000.”
76-year-old Gangaram Meena said clearly, “I will not be able to pay this fine. I don’t have grains to eat, then from where will I get money to construct a toilet.”
Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, till 2019, the Madhya Pradesh government aims to construct toilets in 1.22 crore households, so that 52,000 villages can be free from open defecation.
But at the moment it seems like an ambitious target by the government.