For the women of a remote village in Jharkhand, a walk into the nearby forests is still the only way they can answer nature’s call. Because the much-promised bathrooms to be constructed for every village in India has still eluded them.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched in 2014 with much fanfare. For a cleaner India, an India where toilets would be available, if not in every home but many for each community, each village. The hope is that every state government will be able to fulfil their commitments by the year 2019.
The women of Lopongtandi village in Jharkhand, consisting of about 45 families, keep hoping a few bathrooms will be constructed in the near future so that they don’t have to keep trekking to the jungle for their basic bodily needs. As Meena Kumari says, it is embarrassing to walk into the forest each time. There are always some naughty boys or young men lurking behind the trees to catch a glimpse of a woman in action, no matter how hard they hide in their saris. Geeta Handsa waits in frustration for at least a few toilets to be built so that they finally have their privacy.
The Mukhya (Village headman) of their village has been appealed to and the women have filled in the necessary forms to apply for construction of a few toilets to the Block Development Officer, not once but 2-3 times. There is still no response. They keep hoping their dreams will become a reality in the next few months. In the meantime. they keep walking into the forest……