Here Is the Ground Reality of an ‘Open Defecation-Free’ UP Village

We went to one of the 4,480 villages declared ‘open defecation-free’ by the government.

2 min read

The Narendra Modi-led government announced that under the ‘Namami Gange’ initiative, 4,480 villages along the Ganga were declared open defecation-free (ODF).

The Quint decided to on the ground and put the claim to the test.

On the other side of the Ganga in Varanasi district is Sujabad village. With a population of 35,000, this village has seen rapid population expansion in the last 10 years.

“According to the 2011 Census, there were around 15,000 people in this village. Now, there are over 35,000 people living here. Being close to the city, this village mainly has migrant labourers,” Banarasi Lal of Sujabad village said.


Did the Claim Prove Right?

We met a number of families in Sujabad. While there were homes where the government had built toilets, there were many which did not have access to it.

Surekha, 25, who is a mother of three, takes a bath right outside her house in a makeshift bathroom. Where does she go to the loo?

“We go to the fields right there in the middle of the village,” she said.

Similarly, 35-year-old Manju Devi says she has been running around to get a toilet built for the last five months, but hasn’t been able to do so.

They tell us we need to dig and construct the toilet first and then they will transfer the money in our account. How is that possible? If we had the money, would we be running behind the pradhan?
Manju Devi

'The Govt Didn't Ask Me Before Declaring My Village ODF'

The village pradhan first said all houses in the village had at least one toilet, but then went on to say that he and other subordinate officials were getting tortured by the government.

They torture us by telling us to build toilets under Rs 12,000. How will we build it? Should we sell our house for their ODF targets? They should have asked us before declaring the village ODF. 
Village pradhan

Not enquiring with the village pradhan raises legitimate questions about how this announcement was made by the government. And Sujabad is only one of the 4,480 villages to be declared ‘open defecation-free’.

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

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