Stink Operation: Open Drains in Small Town Rajasthan

In 1993, with the constitutional abolishment of dry latrines and with it, the inhuman practice of manual scavenging, the town of Karauli in Rajasthan began dumping solid and liquid excreta straight from their toilets into the open gutters that ran through town. This simple solution for waste disposal seemed to get the job done at first. In the decade that followed, the people and Municipal authorities entered into complacency. The population kept growing and the waste kept piling up until the very air began to go rotten. People began to fall prey to epidemics. The health and hygiene of the inhabitants went on a downward spiral.

“You cannot walk around town without being suffocated by the stink,” says IndiaUnheard correspondent Sunita Kasera. Sunita, the only woman journalist in the area is on a crusade against the filth and squalor in Karuali. This is her umpteenth video in which she highlights dangerously unhygienic conditions that her community is living in.

“Most houses don’t have a septic tank. The town itself doesn’t have an underground sewage system. The drains in place are open and along the sides of the roads. Even with rising cases of gastro and cholera, jaundice and the ever pervasive godforsaken foul smell, both the people and the Municipality are in denial,” she says. “What is the use of having a clean house when the whole town smells like it is going to rot.”

For Sunita, hygiene and activism both begin at home. Her house is one of the few that have septic tanks. She is working with her local press group to launch an awareness program on civic cleanliness in her town.

She showed the footage that she had gathered for today’s video and showed it to Mr. Gopal Sharma, a local Municipal Councilor. Sunita says that he was horrified on seeing the visuals of the squalor.

“Even if you know about something, sometimes you only wake up to it when you can actually see it before your own eyes,” says Sunita. “I know that the visuals I have taken are very unsavory and I apologize to the people who are put off their meals. Imagine what I had to go through to take those shots? “

“But it takes a shock to the system to make people sit up and realize that this is what it looks like on the ground.”

Mr. Sharma immediately demolished 180 pipelines that flowed from toilets into the open gutters. The people in his ward have been asked to construct a septic tank without any further delay. But Sunita doesn’t seem entirely satisfied with the result.

“I congratulate Mr. Sharma for taking immediate action but once again, it seems like a temporary solution. What a growing town like Karauli needs is proper infrastructure to meet its waste disposal needs. Until I can bring about that change, I will keep on making such videos and keep the pressure firmly on the authorities.”

She then starts talking about her next video on the lack of a proper garbage dump in her town.