In an attempt to attain Open Defecation Free status as early as possible, the Sheopur district administration is providing rations to BPL card holders in a village only after they produce a certificate that they have built a toilet at home.
“The PDS shop has been told to give provisions only when BPL beneficiaries produce the certificate. The strategy has worked. Barring a few, all households now have toilets at home,’’ Sheopur Collector Abhijit Agarwal told The Indian Express.
The PDS shop in Alapura village under Sheopur Janpad Panachyat started insisting on the toilet certificate after a visit from the collector on December 30. Agarwal said there were some villagers who would flatly refuse any suggestion from officials about building toilets at home.
The collector made the villagers take an oath that each household would have a toilet by January 26, the ODF target for the entire district that has 587 villages under 225 gram panchayats. However, one of the house owners expressed his inability to build a toilet. The collector then asked for digging equipment and demonstrated to him how a pit could be dug. Embarrassed by the collector’s move, the owner repeated the ODF oath along with other villagers.
While nobody has complained about coercion, the district administration’s campaign came under criticism from Congress leader Ramnivas Rawat, who represents one of the two Assembly segments in the district. He said the district suffers from acute shortage of water.
“When people don’t have enough drinking water, forcing them to build toilets that consume a lot of water reflects the misplaced priorities of the government,’’ he said. Insisting that he was not against construction of toilets, the Congress leader said people defecate in the open because it saves water.