Cachar district in Assam was declared an Open Defecation Free (ODF) on October 2 last, following its completion of setting up of 1,36,441 individual household latrines (IHHL) across 1015 villages under ‘Swacchata hi Sewa’ campaign of Swacchata Bharat (Rural) Mission.
The toilets have been constructed as per baseline survey done in 2014 of which PHE Division II is the nodal department for getting the task done. Task has indeed been done, but, at what price and at what cost, questions villagers of Borbon, under Udharbond constituency.
Northeast Now took stock of Borbon village and found that the state of toilets made are so pathetic that villagers stay away from using it and still rely on their own man-made toilets, informed one elderly villager, Shyam Singha.
Not only Shyam Singha, but, his next door neighbour too, Noren Singha, speaking to this correspondent was quite vocal in informing that massive embezzlement of funds in carrying out this task has indeed taken place.
He added, “For a sanctioned amount of Rs 12,000 per household, the villagers of Borbon believe that only Rs 5,000 to 6,000 might have been used to set up a token toilet for all of us to see, let alone, use it.
“Is it not a mockery of declaring the district ODF,” questioned, Noren Singha.
A few metres away from Noren’s house when this correspondent reached the house of one Thombi Devi, a resident of this village, she was more than willing to show the state of affairs of a sanitary toilet made to use, instead of defecating in the open.
She blatantly says, “When the wind blows strongly, the whole toilet seems like being blown away. The tank too has leaked within a month or two of it being set up. I am really surprised that the tank which is so small and can accommodate only around 20 to 25 litres, leaked, unable to keep just this much of water.”
“We don’t use it anymore,” informed Thombi Devi.
Noren Singha too had a similar sorry tale to narrate. He showed this correspondent the toilet made at the backside of his house.
“You see the size of it. It is so small that one can find very little space to even squeeze inside it. The government should have given it a thought properly instead of just making one to please us, said Noren Singha.
He though briefed us that an inspection in this regard has been done by the nodal authorities, but, what would be the outcome of those reports, is still a million dollar question, feel villagers of Borbon.