Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has set herself an agenda that every home must get a toilet, and even wants the Election Commission to ensure that every candidate follows the same to contest polls, but a recent survey by NGOs revealed that as many as 70,000 people in the state’s commercial capital Ahmedabad defecate in the open.
A review meeting at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) chaired by Municipal Commissioner Guruprasad Mohapatra along with the NGOs found that the city needed 80,000 toilets to stop open defecation.
At the meeting, a joint report by the World Health Organisation and Unicef was also cited which said a whopping 597 million people in India defecate in the open.
NGOs suggested that the municipal corporation needed to construct at least 25,000 free-of-cost community toilets to make Ahmedabad defecation-free
The Ahmedabad civic body claims that open defecation sites in the city have come down from 400 in the year 2010 to around 80 during 2013, but local NGO Manav Garima asserts that the number is around 300, including in the so-called upmarket west-side areas like Thaltej, Ghatlodia, Wadaj, Kali and Vejalpur, as well as the eastern region.
The key reason for an increase in open defecation, say municipal corporation officials, is the construction of pay-and-use toilets by the civic body.
“These toilets are accessible from around 7 am. Most slum-dwellers leave for work by that time,” a municipal officer said.
And then, slum-dwellers have large families who cannot afford pay-and-use toilets, “which are generally supposed to be for public places and not daily use,” he added.
“Paid toilets cost Rs 3 for each person and for an average slum family of 10 people, this could work out to around Rs 30 every morning, which would not be affordable,” the officer added.
At the AMC review meeting, the NGOs suggested that the municipal corporation needed to construct at least 25,000 free of cost community toilets to make Ahmedabad defecation-free.
The chief minister would have to sanction a budget for this to achieve her goal.