In April, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath set an ambitious target of making the state, including its 59,000 gram panchayats, open defecation free (ODF) by October 2018.
Battling time and insufficient funds in their race to build toilets, district-level officers such as those in Pilibhit have been asking villagers to carry spades when they defecate in the open, dig some earth and cover up, reported The Indian Express
Despite building several toilets by the state government, the Pilibhit district is still short of about 1.33 lakh toilets.
“A team had come a few days ago. They told us that if we cannot build toilets, we should carry spades and cover it up with mud after we are done. It’s embarrassing but we do it now that everyone is after us, telling us to carry spades,” Narayan Lal, 60, who lives in Sirsa Sardah Sahrai --about 18 km from Pilibhit city, told the newspaper.
Sirsa Sardah Sahrai has about 102 houses and a population of about 500 people, but there are no more than 10 houses with toilets, added the report.
“When the funds come, the most poor households are given priority while disbursing the money. But since all houses cannot be funded, our teams try to convince them to build toilets on their own. And if that fails, we tell them to at least carry spades till they do not build toilets,” said Hemendra Pal, District Co-ordinator of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in Pilibhit.
Speaking at an event organised on the occasion of Panchayati Raj Diwas, Adityanath had also said: "We have resolved to totally free the state of the habit of open defecation by October 2018."
In August, Adityanath announcement that 30 districts of the state would be open defecation free by December 31 and the remaining 45 by October 2, 2018, has set a punishing task for the bureaucrats and officials in the state.
The target is 1.55 crore toilets. To meet the deadline the state will have to construct a whopping 44,000 toilets
The state government recently decided to introduce cash incentives
for village heads, officials and workers playing a key role in the campaign.
According to the India Human Development Report published in 2011, there are many gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal that practised open defecation even though they had been rewarded with the Nirmal Gram Puraskar.
(With agency inputs)