Every country in this world is unique and interesting in its own way. India too is different, every household here has a different culture and accordingly their way of life is also different. Not just in terms of culture, India also has an incredible variety of traditions, customs, food items etc. However, the interesting point is the sanitary habit of India is a bit different too. Talking about the differences, it reminded me that India is the only country where one can defecate openly. Surprisingly till date, nothing much has been done to stop it and not much importance has been given in building toilets.
Open defecation is a habit and many do not refer it as an issue, at all. States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand has more homes which do not have toilets than those which actually have it and being used. Our country has world’s largest population of people who defecate in the open and excrete close to 65,000 tonnes of faeces into the environment each day.
If the data has still not given you goose bumps, let me tell you another shocking fact that the practice of open defecation is the main reason for the highest number of diarrheal deaths among children. Every year, diarrhea kills 188,000 Indian children who are under the age of five. It is disheartening to know that 80 per cent of children’s faeces are left in the open or thrown into the garbage. The dangerous effect of the habit can be determined by the fact that one gram of faeces contains 1 million viruses, 1 million bacteria and 1,000 parasite cysts which are enough to make us ill.
Surprisingly, this heart taking data still has not gained enough attention by our political leaders as it should be. The sad news is that there are people who still think that constructing toilets
is the responsibility of the government if they want to stop open defecation. The government of India has also taken various initiatives about it and now offering Rs.4, 000 to every household for the construction of a toilet.
However, the agony is that it is not only limited to few states, open defecation is also a problem in big metropolitans like Delhi or Mumbai or small cities like Guwahati in the Northeast India. I am sure, irrespective of the city or town you live, you cross many places several times a day where you need to cover your nose and pass. People are not concerned about it, at all. Even, the public toilets
are not cleaned properly on a regular basis so that even the willing ones can not actually use it. The public toilets
which are meant for our convenience rather create a problem for us.
Though, different initiatives of the government have created awareness in people in the villages but there is also a lot to be done in the cities too. Sadly, few of the organization have clean toilets. It is the responsibility of the people who either pass by or use the public toilets to give a note about its condition to the municipal corporation of the respective city. However, the municipal corporations should also vigil the public toilets and check their conditions.
Once, the public toilets are properly cleaned and well maintained then the government should strictly restrict people from open defecation by imposing strict punishment against it. The expected mothers must be taught and should be trained on how and where to dispose the faeces of their children.
Finally, everyone must come forward and raise our voice for a safe and healthy environment; we should not let anyone play with our health and should demand toilets, clean toilets.
INDIA / New Delhi / 5 March 2011
Portable toilets are provided by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi for the community at a slum colony in the GP Block of the Pitampura locality of New Delhi.