Open defecation continues to haunt Bhopal despite high ranking

first_imgWatch | Is India open defecation-free? Residents in several pockets of Bhopal continue to defecate in the open, even though it basks in the ODF++ status granted by the Centre. And large quantities of the city’s sewage is still disgorged untreated into water bodies, including a wetland of international importance.A city could be declared open defecation-free (ODF) ++ only if at any point of the day, not a single person is found to be defecating or urinating in the open, community toilets are functional, and faecal sludge and sewage is safely managed and not discharged untreated into water bodies. This must be verified by a third party, according to the Swachh Survekshan 2019.Open defecation is more pronounced in the 373 slums of the city. “The Municipal Corporation has constructed toilets. Still, some people are used to going out in an open field. Moreover, how do you expect to stop people from urinating in the open?” asked Ramesh Sharma*, a pan seller in Anna Nagar. Five temporary toilets and two Sulabh toilet complexes cater to around 1,000 residents of the slum.“It’s one thing to build toilets and another to change attitudes of people into using them,” he added.The survey has declared Bhopal the country’s cleanest State capital. But it slipped to the 19th rank this year, after securing the 2nd spot twice consecutively. “Around, 99% of them have access to clean toilets/urinals in public places,” it said for its residents.In Bawadia Kalan, 8 km away, Sonu Kumar*, a college student, and a slum resident, said more people used toilets than before. “Almost 90% of people use toilets which have regular water supply and are relatively cleaner than before. Yet, there are some who still venture out to get some fresh air.”“There may be one or two persons going out to defecate. But you need to focus on the positive aspects of the sanitation drive which has improved the situation drastically,” said Rajesh Rathore, Additional Commissioner, Bhopal Municipal Corporation and incharge of the State’s sanitation.The city had met the sanitation infrastructure needs, but attitudes would not change overnight, he said. “It takes years.”Urbanisation and seasonal migration, as with any big city, were increasingly throwing roadblocks in achieving sanitation goals, especially those relating to open defecation, said Mr. Rathore. “Members of a rural family may still be defecating in the open back in the village, an attitude that may remain unchanged even when they migrate to a city.” On October 2, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said rural India had declared itself open defecation-free.According to the 2011 census, the city had a burgeoning floating population of 96,193 persons, that stressed its resources. And 40,352 households had practised open defecation. Today, there are more than 19 lakh residents.As for safe discharge of sewage, the city treated merely 30% of it before releasing it in water bodies, such as the Bhojtal, a wetland protected under the Ramsar Convention. A ₹145-crore Bhojtal project was sanctioned last year for sewage network and treatment, according to an official of the Lake Conservation Cell, requesting anonymity.The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has roped in the Quality Council of India to undertake third party assessments of ODF+ and ODF++, based on requests from States.(*Names changed) Open DefecationVolume 90%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard ShortcutsPlay/PauseSPACEIncrease Volume↑Decrease Volume↓Seek Forward→Seek Backward←Captions On/OffcFullscreen/Exit FullscreenfMute/UnmutemSeek %0-9Live00:0001:4601:46last_img

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