Rajasthan takes coercive steps to be open-defecation free.
Jaipur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan” has turned into a nightmare for millions of poor, disabled and elderly people across Rajasthan. The campaign has set off a blind race to become first open defecation free state in the country, especially among the BJP-ruled states.
Going against the spirit of “Clean India Campaign”, the Vasundhara Raje government is allegedly using coercive methods to force people to build toilets but at the same time failing to provide the financial support as promised.
Instead of encouraging people to stop defecating in open, the state authorities have been threatening with police case, stopping ration under public distribution system, blocking pensions and even going to the extent of ostracising their children in schools.
One of the villagers in the state, Narbada Devi, said she doesn’t have money but didn’t have a choice other than digging a pit because she was told she wouldn’t get pension and other benefits. “What would I do with two daughters if pension was stopped,” she said.
For the physically challenged Chunni Lal Dangi and Basanti, it was a double whammy. Despite a crippled right hand, Chunni Lal somehow managed to dig a pit but lack of money came in way of building toilet but without toilet he cannot get wheat from the government ration shop. Basanti too ran out of money after spending Rs 12,000 on hiring JCB machine to dig a pit.
These are just some examples from a vast majority of underprivileged villagers from a detailed field survey by the Rajiv Gandhi Panchayati Raj Sangthan, which is affiliated to the Congress. Convenor Amit Punia said that he and his team spent 22 days and nights in 40 villages of Ghodach and Rama gram panchanyats of Rajsamand and Udaipur districts.
As shown in a video clip prepared by Punia and his team, villagers alleged that threats are not limited to block ration or pension but many other benefits under welfare schemes and even electricity.
According to Punia, the pressure is not just on villagers but on public representatives too. “Sarpanch is being forced to give in writing that their panchayat have become ODF whereas the ground reality is that even where toilets have been built people are not using them for lack of water or sewage line,” he alleged.