A Delhi Village That Was ‘Set’ to Be ODF Still Goes to the Fields

A palpable anger runs through Jheemarpura, a village where open-defecation is still an inescapable reality.

My Report
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On the fringes of North-West Delhi lies Jheemarpura, a small village of 70-80 households that may bear resemblance to a typical unassuming rural village from neighbouring Haryana or Uttar Pradesh – surrounded by open fields with a single-lane road leading to the village and hardly any vehicles seen.

Falling under the constituency of MP Udit Raj, Jheemarpura is a part of Jaunti village, which was adopted by the parliamentarian in 2014 under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. For Jaunti, Raj had made a number of tall promises, and one among them was to make Jheemarpura Open Defecation Free (ODF).

"Jheemarpura a part of #Jaunti Village adopted by Me to develop as Adarsh Gram under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana is all set to become Open Defecation Free in a Life Changing Initiative [sic]," he declared on Twitter in May 2018.

In an interview to ThePrint too, Raj had said, "Two villages, one is Khanpur and Jheemarpura, were made defecation free by us."


Promises Unfulfilled

But a visit to the village almost a year later, in the run-up to 2019 Lok Sabha elections, reveals a different story altogether. Villagers claim that out of the 60-70 toilets that were supposed to be constructed towards the objective of giving the village an ODF status, only 10-12 are complete and functional.

In some households, there are structures resembling toilets, but are incomplete or non-functional. And in a few, there are no toilets at all.

With resentment towards the authorities apparent, the residents of the households where toilets lie incomplete and unusable point towards the absence of roofs, seats, as well open pits dug up next to the structures.

"The pits they dug up and the gutters they made for toilets are lying as it is today. It's been a year. Two-three buffaloes have fallen into such pits," says a visibly angry Pappu, adding that the toilet constructed in his house is used for storing trash.

Same is the story in some other households, with to-be toilets being used as storage rooms, and villagers narrating tales of children or animals falling into open pits.


Safety Concerns Run High

With open-defecation still an inescapable reality in Jheemarpura, safety concerns also continue to run high, as villagers face backlash from the landowners nearby, whose fields they might be using.

“We go to the fields to defecate, where the landowners abuse us. One of them got behind me one day at 5 in the morning. I told him that I did not go to his field. There’s definitely concerns when a woman goes out at night. There might be alcoholics sitting there, so we do feel scared.”
Sunita, Jheemarpura Resident

A palpable anger runs through the village, and for their sitting MP, who has now crossed over to the Congress after was not given a ticket from the BJP, their question is: ‘Kya Hua Tera Vaada?’

“What has Udit Raj done about his promises? What has he done for Jheemarpura? When they need us, when they look for votes, only then do they talk about Jheemarpura.”
Pappu, Jheemarpura Resident

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