While Swachh Bharat mission has declared 98.6% of the Indian household have access to toilets. Residents of Jay Ambe Nagar, Mumbai are going on without toilets for 16 years.
On 2nd October 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the most ambitious cleanliness campaign in India – Swachh Bharat Mission. After more than 4 years, Modi government agrees that 96% of rural sanitation coverage has been achieved. The statistics appear to be picture perfect but on the contrary, in Chedda Nagar, Mumbai, there are no toilets. This is forcing people to defecate in open.
“There are no toilets, young girls go in the open for defecation. All the hooligans are around, a lot of ruckus happens. Sometimes they just pull the girls aside from there. Does it feel good? You claim India is clean but where and how India is clean”, says Laxmi Tai, mother of an 18-year-old daughter.
It’s not only the conditions of toilets which are distressing people but the several other basic facilities which lack in Chedda Nagar, Chembur. “We have sent several letters asking for basic facilities here, but the government, the BMC, and Collector have ignored it”, says Bhanudas Kaale, from Chedda Nagar. Residents of Cheddar Nagar are speaking at length about how the government made pompous promises but kept none. People are living in temporary shelters, without, electricity, water, and toilets. “They are building toilets, giving gas for Rs.100 in the villages. But we haven’t got anything. We are in Mumbai, we should get our rights”, says Laxmi Tai.
Bhanudas who has been living in Chedda Nagar for the past 20 years, works in the slum. With the help of the community, he held agitations in demand for mere basic facilities and complained to the members of the municipality, MLA, and MP. “During elections, they always come to ask for a vote and we do vote. They say this place is illegal. We have proper proof of 2004, 2006, we also have transfer letter”, Bhaudas added.
People, especially women, are suffering massively due to the unavailability of toilets. “It’s been 16-17 years here in the same condition. It extremely difficult for all, especially for ladies. Household and toilets surveys are done, but no one comes to see that They keep saying they will come, but when will they come. Then they tell us not to go in the open for defecation”, says Shindu Tai, a resident of Chedda Nagar.
It is apparent that the Swachh Bharat campaign has so far failed to meet its own mark. Nevertheless, the prime minister was lauded for coming up with such a flagship campaign, which was debated to be a collective behaviour movement for rural sanitation. Besides that, for a layman, it is more than just a campaign. It needs to be implemented on the ground as well.
Video by Community Correspondent Amol Lalzare
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a member of the VV editorial team