By Matters India Reporter
Phulbani, Jan 4, 2019: The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India, has awarded Kandhamal district, Odisha, as one of the #10 winners of the ‘World Toilet Day Contest 2018.’
However, ground report says that many people in rural areas of the district are not using toilets for various reasons.
Brindha Devarajan, District Collector of Kandhamal, said on January 3, “Good News for Kandhamal district. It is one of the #10 winners of the ‘World Toilet Day Contest 2018’ held by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India. Let us all spread the message of sanitation together.”
Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation organized a World Toilet Day contest from Nov 9 to 19, 2018, across India. It was an opportunity to re-intensify the Swachh Bharat jan andolan at the grassroots.
The competition was led by district collectors or magistrates and CEO (Zila Parishads). Some 412 districts from 25 states and union territories took part in the contest. The program reached out to millions of rural areas, said a communique from Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation dated January 2.
The top 10 placeholders (and two joint winners) are Bankura (West Bengal), Ganderbal (Jammu & Kashmir), Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Hazaribagh (Jharkhand), Jehanabad (Bihar), Kandhamal (Odisha), Kodagu (Karntataka), Lohardaga (Jharkhand), Murshidbaad (West Bengal), Salem (Tamil Nadu), Sangli (Maharashtra) and South West Khasi Hills (Meghalaya)—in alphabetical order.
A few people from Kandhamal were less impressed by the news.
According to them those using toilets in Kandhamal are very few. Social worker Binu Pradhan, based in Daringbadi block. says some families of the district have made toilets but they need to take water from outside. Some toilets have not been completed. Most people go out for their needs.
“There is no running water for toilet use. No steady supply of electricity in most part of the district. It is the same condition in most towns. Most people get electricity for half an hour each in the morning and evening. It is always erratic,” he told Matters India.
In Simonbadi village of Daringbadi block, people do not have safe drinking water, forget about the running water for toilet use, he said.
Aswin Nayak, a teacher from Raikia block of Kandhamal district, said that mere building toilets for families is not the solution. The concern is that government must provide facilities for running water and steady supply of electricity and convince people to use toilets.
“Without such facilities, the toilet building for people appears to be mere farce,” he added.
He also said that many villages do not have electrification, contrary to government claims.
Kandhamal is a highland, mountainous and valley-terrain. It is one of the least developed among 30 districts of Odisha. Most inhabitants are Tribals and Dalits.