Badaun gangrape: Why the Badaun girls didn’t have a toilet they could call their own

Village of 3,500 families has about 100 toilets, many say money given not enough.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | Katra Sadatganj (badaun) | Updated: June 3, 2014 8:28:19 am
A sanitation survey being carried out in Badaun district. (Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna) A sanitation survey being carried out in Badaun district. (Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

Katra Sadatganj village where two cousins went out to relieve themselves at night and were found raped and hanging from a tree 10 hours later has 3,500 families. Of them, 173 have toilets. Of these, 73 exist only on paper.

There are at least three schemes funded jointly by the central and state governments for sanitation. In 2010, the Badaun district under which the village falls won the best performance award under one such scheme, the Sampurna Swachata Abhiyan of the Union government for building toilets.

According to figures available with the chief development officer (CDO) of Badaun district, the last 10 toilets were constructed in Katra Sadatganj under the Indira Awaas Yojana in 2010. It was in 2002 that the last survey was conducted to identify BPL families eligible for it. Under the scheme, families got Rs 36,000 to build a house and toilet. While the amount has since been hiked to Rs 75,000, the villagers in Katra Sadatganj were covered by the previous allocation.

Justifying the sanitation award won by Badaun, CDO Uday Raj Singh, also the acting DM of the district, says: “In the survey, we drew up a wait list of BPL families, and every financial year we have released money to people on this wait list. In Katra Sadatganj village, the last of the 173 identified families was covered in 2011.”

The families of the two cousins who were found dead own 10 bighas of land together and were not identified as BPL beneficiaries, though they say they have applied several times for BPL cards. “There is obviously a need to conduct fresh surveys,” a senior official says. “A survey had started during the Mayawati government, we completed the findings where a thousand odd new BPL families were found. But the survey was stopped after the new government took over.”

The father of the 14-year-old deceased girl says his family had been identified for a state medical relief scheme for BPL families. “How is it that we were identified as poor in one government survey but omitted in another?” he asks.

Those who were found eligible for monetary benefits in the 2002 survey say the construction of a single-room house and toilet began only in 2007. Village pradhan Kamal Kant Sharma points out that of the finished toilets, at least 50 were just holes dug into the ground and covered with a tin sheet. “In less than a year, the holes filled up and there was nobody to help villagers clean them. At least 50 of these toilets are non-functional,” Sharma says.

Many beneficiaries did not even build the toilets, saying the money allocated was not enough. Ram Bhajan, one such beneficiary and a neighbour of the deceased girls, says he had to choose between constructing a house or a toilet with his money. “Yeh toh shauch ya maut ka sawal tha (It was a matter of toilet or life),” he says. “There were floods that year, so I had to get a pucca roof over my children’s heads and save their lives or get a toilet. The money was not enough for both.”

There are at least 15-20 such beneficiaries with toilets only on paper. CDO Singh said the government followed up with the beneficiaries till a year after the grant of funds, but it was “physically impossible to track them after that”.

Five months ago, district officials from Badaun identified 10 Scheduled Caste and 34 general and OBC families from this village, and 489 SC and 1,483 general or non-SC families from all of Badaun district as beneficiaries for the state government’s Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Samagra Gram Vikas Scheme. Under it, Rs 1,60,000 was given to build houses and toilets and to install electricity supplies for a single fan and two lights. But district officials say the government is still to clear the funds.

Under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) of the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, another Rs 10,000 was released to identified families, jointly from the NREGA, the NBA and state government. However, Katra Sadatganj is yet to get the benefits of the scheme, though neighbouring Kheda Jalalpur has been identified for the same.

On Monday, when Sulabh International conducted its first survey of Katra Sadatganj to build toilets, many women cheered them on. A 14-year-old cousin of the two deceased girls — the third minor girl of the household — said, “Our school has a toilet, so during school days, the three of us would go there. But now the school is shut so everyone has to go out to the fields in the evening.”

She has no doubt why she was spared the fate of her cousins. “I had my menstrual cycle, so that night I stayed back. I feel too embarrassed to go out in such a condition. That saved my life.”

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