Barabanki: The house of a family in Uttar Pradesh‘s Akanpur village in Barabanki district is made of mud walls and a thatched roof that needs to be replenished every few months. When rain lashed the village, water seeped through the corner of the roof inside the house that had a ‘chulha’ (brick stove), making it difficult for the family to cook during that time. But the family has now turned their toilet that was built a year ago under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) into their kitchen.
Ram Prakash and his family can now cook food even in the rainy season without bothering about water dripping from the roof. He explained,
Kya karen? (What to do) We did not get the promised house under the Prime Minister Awas Yojana (PMAY) but got the toilet under the SBA. The whole of last week, our hut was leaking due to rains and if we had not converted the toilet into a kitchen, we would not have had food to eat. In fact, we even manage to squeeze in and sleep when it rains heavily.
Mr. Prakash admitted that he and his family continue to defecate in the open for obvious reasons. District Magistrate Barabanki, Adarsh Singh, said that they had not received any such request for a house from the family. He said,
We have not received any such request for the house. We will investigate the matter and try to provide proper accommodation. Our aim is that if a woman does not have an accommodation then we will try to provide the same immediately.
The official further said that if there was any negligence on the part of the gram panchayat and village head, then action would be taken. However, a social activist, on condition of anonymity, said,
This is not an isolated case. There are numerous such cases in Barabanki district where families are either cooking in open space as they do not have a house or have received a house under PMAY scheme and do not have toilets. They defecate in the open as many walls have been built in the name of toilets, but the toilet seats have not been installed.
The activist said that a large number of toilets were pending completion since the village head was not willing to complete the work. He stated,
We have submitted a complaint to the village secretary regarding the toilets but nobody has paid heed to those requests.
According to an official data available at the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin website, the whole Hazratpur gram panchayat has 620 households, of which 116 did not have toilets and eight were Below Poverty Line (BPL).