Collaboration with the Hindi Water Portal to bring you sanitation stories from the field in India

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Collaboration with the Hindi Water Portal to bring you sanitation stories from the field in India

Dear all,

The SuSanA India Chapter brings you stories from the field through a collaboration between India Sanitation Coalition and Hindi Water Portal .

As part of the SuSanA India Chapter's outreach to new partners, the India Sanitation Coalition and Hindi Water Portal are going to share content. One aspect is bringing you stories from the field in India reported on HWP by its network of reporters. HWP covers issues related to water and sanitation predominantly in North and Central India - some of the most challenging areas for sanitation in India. We hope these stories raise awareness of ground-level issues, and lead to the application of solutions on the ground from the collective expertise of the SuSanA India Chapter.

HWP is a website that shares knowledge and builds communities around water and related issues in India. Managed by Arghyam, the Portal has become a valuable archive of resources, working papers, reports, data, articles, news, events, opportunities and discussions on water.

Hindi Water Portal works through a network of contributors across the Hindi speaking belt in India, publishing articles on local water issues and in some instances, influencing advocacy at various levels of government through its reporting. Many Hindi Water Portal stories have been reprinted in local Hindi newspapers.

In order to share these stories from the field with a global community, six stories have been translated into English and will be shared subsequently on the SuSanA Forum. We hope to provoke a discussion that can be fed back to the Hindi Water Portal.

We hope you will read and comment on these stories.

Regards
Nitya Jacob
(Coordinator SuSanA India Chapter)

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Re: Thank God the forest is nearby, otherwise where will we go for defecation?

By: Prem Pancholi
College students are forced to go out in the open to use a toilet.
Recently, there was news from the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand that all houses in the district have toilets. However, during a field visit, it was found that there is one college named Gevala Brahmakal Government College in the district where 422 students still urinated in the open. Of these, 200 were female students. Four toilets had been built in the college premises, but these toilets have never been used.

It must be highlighted that on the one hand, Swachh Bharat Mission is being encouraged and on the other hand, these 422 students continue to urinate in the open as their college toilets are in poor shape. In spite of being provided with toilets, they prefer not to use them. This College, Genvala Brahmakal, is around 40 km away from Uttarkashi district headquarters, not even in remote location. It is situated on the main road leading to the religious sites of Yamunotri and Gangotri.

Many government officials take this route regularly. Also, three legislators of the Uttarkashi district use the road often. But no one has ever considered the problem of the students. Genvala Brahmkhal is a developing town with market places. There are many affluent and powerful families in the town. Even the current principal of this school is a local resident of the town.

Poor Condition of School Toilets
It is not like there has never been a toilet in the school premises but the stories related to toilets made by the school are shocking. Students said the school has had toilets since the building was constructed, but they were showpieces. They have never been used as toilets. The students said that they are very fortunate to have a forest very close to their school, i.e., at the upper end of their school campus. This makes urinating in the open easy.

There are two ways to go to the forest near the school. Boys use one way and the girls use the other. That is why they do not face problems. They also shared that this facility is limited to only urinating. If they go for urination in the forest, they miss lessons and are at risk of attack by animals.

Some students said the school teachers and other staff members use the toilets of the hotels in the Brahmakhal market. Therefore, they do not bother about the condition of the school toilets. The principal is a local resident and can go to his home when needs to use the toilet. Some girls said sometimes they have to control themselves from urinating till they get back home but this has affected their health. Students have narrated their toilet troubles to prominent visitors but no one has tried to remedy the situation.

There is no lack of space for toilets in the school premises and toilets were built along with the main school building. The four toilets were built in 1982. But the school management never bothered about their utility. Their design is faulty and are kept locked.

Sumeer Singh Bhandari, Principal of the college, said when they started using toilets, the pipes got choked so they had to lock them. After that incident, they have never been used. When he became principal of the school, he re-opened the toilets and found the soak pits of toilets were present but the waste was not reaching them. The pipes were choked. He said the number of students was increasing in the school for which nine rooms were constructed in the school premises under the national middle school education scheme in 2014.

The soak pits of the toilets were damaged during the construction of these classrooms. Now there is a dire need to make new toilets in the school. The school has nearly the same number of number of male and female students. Staff and students face a huge problem of lack of toilets even though the Brahmakal market is next to the school premises.

This school has busted the image of Uttarkashi fitted with toilets.

It is not a coincidence that the slogans used for Swajal Project are also related to the same problem. These are: No one should defecate in open, toilets in every house, Uttarkashi is now fitted with toilets, etc. These slogans are made to encourage people to use toilets.
Rakesh Jhakmola, Managing Director of Swajal Project, Uttarkashi, said they are not making toilets in schools and colleges anymore. The authorities of Swajal project used to transfer the money to the concerned department to make toilets in schools and colleges until October 2014. Now, they only work for public awareness and encouragement.

In response to a question whether there is a toilet in every house, he said that he assumed it to be true. He had no information however, on whether those toilets were being used. He stated that, in general, toilets were used in the government buildings by the people. The College is an exceptional case where toilets were not being used by anyone.

Ramesh Chand Arya, Chief Education Officer of the Uttarkashi District, said that he has inspected the College. He has asked the principal to send a proposal to the District Headquarters for the construction of toilets in the school so that this problem could be resolved.

Lack of cleaners in the school
Another problem of this school is that it does not have cleaners. All the students run a cleanliness drive once a week to keep the school premises clean. There is one 200 litre water tank which provides drinking water in the school premises. There is a proper system for water in the school complex. There are vacant places in the premises where the toilets can be constructed. Thus, the main question which arises is that why aren’t all the principals taking charge of the old locked toilets till now and not doing something about it.

None of the principals have felt the need for toilets in the school. As per the present scenario, there must be toilets in the school as Uttarkashi district has claimed itself to be open defecation free. Our Prime Minister has also asked everyone to be sensitive towards toilets and cleanliness. Even after all this, the main school in Genvala Brahmkhal which is just 40 km away from the district headquarters, does not have functioning toilets. This belies the claims of the 'cleanliness mission'.

The story of State Intermediate College, Genvala Brahmakhal, confirms that when the district administration cannot make a toilet in the school premises which is just 40 km away from Uttarkashi district, what will be the possible condition of the remote schools of the district? The irony is that the district administration claims Uttarkashi to be a toilet fitted district. If this is true, then where are the toilets in the State Intermediate College, Genvala Brahmkhal? Why do those 422 students from that school have to go in the open for defecation today? This proof is enough to burst the bubble of truth that Uttarkashi district is toilet fitted.

You can read the original post on the Hindi Water Portal here
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Re: Collaboration with the Hindi Water Portal to bring you sanitation stories from the field in India

Toilet- Ek Prem Katha
This is a film based on a story by Umesh Kumar Roy. It has been directed by Shree Narayan Singh. The screenplay was by Sidharth Singh, Garima Wahal. The actors are Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar, Divyendu Sharma, Anupam Kher.

Even today, open defecation is a problem. More than 60 per cent of the people in the country practice open defecation. This movie is a satire on this habit. It is directed by Shree Narayan Singh. In his debut film, the intention was to make us aware of the practice of open defecation by this entertaining movie which revolves around toilets.

Beginning of the story
Nandgaon of Mathura is still at dawn; there are only a few hours left for the end of the night. Women have come out with a small pot and lanterns in their hands. They make fun of each other on their way. This is freedom time for them. At this time, they do things which they cannot in front of husbands and mothers-in-law. They call this routine the 'Lota Party'. In fact, they leave home with covered faces and go to fields to defecate because they do not have toilets at their home.

This is the opening scene of the movie ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’. Such a scenario is very common in most Indian villages. The story takes twists and turns till reaches the point where the hero of the film, Akshay Kumar aka Keshav and the heroine, Bhumi Pednekar aka Jaya reach the point where their marriage is about to end. Jaya is well-educated and unused to open defecation. After she marries Keshav, she realises there is no toilet in husband’s home and neighboring women come to invite her to join the ‘Lota Party’. She starts revolting against it.

His father is conservative and superstitious. He feels talking about defecation while having a meal is a sin. He does not want a toilet in their home at any cost. This is partly because there is a basil plant in the courtyard which is worshipped, and a toilet cannot be built in the same courtyard. Citing Manusmriti, some elderly people say that all must defecate in the open. They cannot insult their culture and civilization by making toilets in their house. Even women who defecate in the open feel the same way, even though they fear being seen by strange men while doing the deed.

Before the break, there are some romantic scenes in the film and some silly ideas of the hero regarding defecation are shown. One of these ideas is defecating in a toilet of a train which stops at Nandgaon station for seven minutes. He takes his wife to the station on a bike every morning, and as soon as the train arrives, his wife goes to the toilet, defecates and they return home. One day, when she is in the toilet, the door is blocked by heavy luggage and Jaya cannot get off the train in time. Annoyed, she goes back to her maternal home. This small incident becomes a turning point in the movie when the heroine decides that she will not return to her in-laws’ house till they make a toilet. After the break, there is a struggle between hero and heroine to have a toilet in their house.

Keshav takes the first step. He talks about toilets in village meetings but people are against them. He meets government officials, where he finds that the government is trying to make toilets but people themselves are not ready for it. Because of this, a huge scam takes place in the name of a toilet project. The entire focus is on the construction of toilets. After many efforts from Keshav, finally government officials approve the contract of construction of public toilets in Nandgaon. In the end, Keshav and Jaya get reunited, Keshav's father realizes his mistake and the film ends with people taking selfies with toilets.

The ‘lota’ is used as an important tool in the movie. In order to narrate the problems of defecation in open, cases of violence linked to open defecation in Badaun and Jharkhand are depicted in the movie.

The whole film is based on true events from 2013. Many characters have been created to create drama in the story. The message is given in a light and humorous manner. After watching the movie, it is clear that the film has been made to promote the ‘Clean India’ campaign of the Central Government because many dialogues of the movie are similar to the government slogans.

'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha' triggers a debate on toilet-related issues. The courage required to make a film on this issue should be appreciated. Talking about acting, everyone has done justice to their characters, but Sudhir Pandey stands out in the role of Keshav's father as Panditji.

The film is long and while some problems from open defecation have been shown, the negative impact on health has come out clearly. The problem of lacking toilets is even more critical in villages than cities. About 60 percent of the rural households do not have toilets. Hence it is necessary that villagers should be able to watch this film and it shouldn’t be a mere entertainer for the urban population.

(This is the second in the series of translations from the Hindi Water Portal)
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Re: Collaboration with the Hindi Water Portal to bring you sanitation stories from the field in India

Dear all,

I am sharing the third in a series of stories from the Hindi Water Portal . Please take a moment to read and comment so we can inform the Portal about what you have to say.

Still a long way to go for a Swachh Bharat
By Arun Tiwari
‘Every house must have a toilet’
‘Every village must be cleaned’
‘Everyone must get clean drinking water’
‘Every city must has its own provision of solid-liquid waste disposal’
Considering these goals, the Swachh Bharat Mission was launched on October 2, 2014. It was announced that SBM will achieve its goal by October 2, 2019 which coincides with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. This would be the best and true tribute to the Father of Nation. To reach this goal, a budget of ₹ 62,999 crores has been alloted. By May 2017 and half time is over. That means half of the goal should have been achieved. More than half the budged has been spent. Crores of the money has been spent on advertising the importance of toilets. With this endeavor, number of toilets has increased, but India has not been cleaned yet.
Is India really clean?
According to a survey, about 1.60 lakh metric tonnes of garbage are produced in India daily. If this would be processed properly, manure worth ₹ 27,000 crores could be produced. This would make 45 lakh acres of barren land fertile, produce 50 lakh tonnes of grains and gas for more than two lakh cylinders.
By keeping the purpose of the campaign in mind, SBM decided to set up a waste management system in the cities, construct toilets and prevent burning of garbage. Cities claim they collect 100% of the household garbage from 42,948 wards. It is estimated that 88.4 MW of electricity is made from this garbage. 164,891.6 tonnes of compost has been made. According to the government’s data records (at the end of April 2017), 619 cities have been freed from open defecation by constructing 311,424 private toilets and 115,786 public toilets. Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat have achieved the status of 100% Open Defecation Free. Mysore city in Karnataka is the cleanest city, Gangtok city in Sikkim is the cleanest hill station and Mavelanag city in Meghalaya is the cleanest village.
Survey which reveals the truth
Out of 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats, 28,000 have become ODF according to the surveyed data of October 2016. The survey of the National Sample Survey Office, exposes urban sanitation claims. According to this survey, Dhanbad is the dirtiest city in India. The condition of cities like Kolkata, Asansol, Dhanbad, Mahesana, Narnaul, Indore, Patna, Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Raigarh, Raipur, Jagdalpur have worsened.
Irrespective of the fact that there is a ban on burning garbage, people still do it. New sewage treatment systems have been installed but in spite of reprimands from the National Green Tribunal, they don’t work properly. No stress is laid on reducing garbage. There are no strict rules or facilities to achieve the target of ‘Zero Pollution Industries’. The contribution of 1,257,265 human hours in the name of SBM has not done anything than to make people aware.
Claims about the toilets
As per the rural targets of SBM, 39,551,025 toilets have been made until April 23, 2017. There is no open defecation in 192,403 villages and 134 districts. Under Namami Gange Abhiyaan, 3,818 villages are free from open defecation. All the villages of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Kerala are free from open defecation. The rate of coverage is around 50% in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. On the other hand, Bihar, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir are still lagging. The rural areas of Bihar are least successful with only 29.1% coverage.
To assess the progress, we must look into the past. In the years 1992-93, 70% of Indians didn’t have the toilet facilities in their houses. In 20017-08, this number fell to 51%. As per statistics presented by the World Bank, 66% of the rural and 19% of the urban population did not have toilet facilities in October 2015. According to the Indian government, they have achieved 41.92% of their target to make toilets throughout the country by October 2, 2014. Further, 63.72% of the target was achieved on April 23, 2017.
These numbers can evoke for those who think that toilets lead to cleanliness. Thousands of villages of India are now enlisted as ODF. But there are some disappointing aspects. The purpose of this campaign has restricted itself to making toilets. Also, there have been money scams, bad quality and other irregularities.
Various reports of the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Parliament) state huge scams and incomplete construction of toilets have happened during the construction of toilets. As per articles of the Amar Ujala newspaper, scams took place in Cholpur Block’s Babetpur, Rajala, Mahda and Latuni villages. A probe revealed more: around 71 incomplete toilets were found in Latuni. The panchayat’s secretary and pradhan stole the second installment of the subsidy for 51 toilets. Another ₹ 64,400 for 14 toilets was also stolen.
Most of the bigger scams took place in Chhattisgarh. According to a report on the ABP TV channel, there have been huge problems with toilet construction. Video footage on the construction of toilets shows incomplete toilets that lack seats, water tanks, doors and more.
How to reduce trash and electronic waste? How will execution agencies / departments get interested in nature-friendly execution? Ways to find solutions to these challenges related to the sanitation and the environment must be started today itself. Lack of interest in transforming urban organic waste into compost is the third challenge. Cleaning dirty roads, paths and unhygienic surroundings are also challenging. It is sad that we, our government, municipalities and panchayats have no determination to get rid of these sanitation problems.
Nothing will change till the time cleanliness becomes a public habit. Otherwise, all the efforts done for sanitation will be a business activity only. It will only be a source of income for contractors and brokers. It is important that everyone in this country takes cleanliness next to godliness.
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Collaboration with the Hindi Water Portal to bring you sanitation stories from the field in India

Dear Mr. Nitya Jacob,

I do get posts from India Water Portal. My question is: is India Water Portal different from Hindi Water Portal?

Regards,
F H Mughal

F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan
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Re: Collaboration with the Hindi Water Portal to bring you sanitation stories from the field in India

Dear Mr Mughal,

They are supported by Arghyam but the teams and content is somewhat different. HWP has content from the Hindi-speaking states gathered by their own 'reporters' and posted for a very grassroots audience. These are stories not usually seen in newspapers.

Hope this answers your question.

Regards
Nitya
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Re: Collaboration with the Hindi Water Portal to bring you sanitation stories from the field in India

The issue of purification of Ganga is not an easy one
By: Gyanendra Rawat
It seems that the challenge of purification of Ganga is harder than it was assumed to be. The real fact is that no matter how many claims Modi government makes, despite the efforts of seven Central Government Ministries, hardly anything has happened to clean the Ganga since 2014 till July 2017. While the expected time to finish this project was 2018, the Ganga is still dirty. Claims can be made but even today there is no control on disposal of chemical effluents. As a result, the amount of oxygen in it is reducing.
Sadly, the National Green Authority has warned the Central Government, State Governments, and Central Pollution Control Board officials several times. They have been summoned repeatedly to explain their carelessness. The NGT has even scolded officers of the National Clean Ganga Mission saying that they are wasting resources and time.
The Uttar Pradesh Government has failed to stop burning garbage on the banks of Ganga and its tributaries. NGT had banned garbage burning in December 2016 for environmental protection. Also, Government failed to make sure that garbage wasn’t collected along the river.
While hearing the Ganga Cleaning Case, NGT ordered that whoever throws e-garbage on the banks of Ganga’s tributary, the Ramganga, will be fined an amount of ₹ 100,000. According to NGT, harmful e-garbage in the form of powder from different industries has settled near the Ramganga River’s banks. This dangerous garbage is highly polluted and very harmful for human health and environment. Sadly, officials are evaded responsibility and are blaming each other. The e-garbage should be removed quickly. Industries that dump e-waste will have to pay a huge fine to be fixed by the Divisional Magistrate.
The mission has been running for about three years and its budget has been raised. No explanations have being given to justify why. Ironically, the Ganga has still not been cleaned but modes of transportation via water between Kolkata and Varanasi are being discussed.
The Central Water Resources and Ganga Conservation Minister, Uma Bharti, had announced the mission and had assured that the Ganga will be cleaned in a year and its effect will be visible by October 2015. In March 2017, she said that the cleaning of Ganga has been delayed for eight months. Now, the Ministry has reduced the deadline for different phases and has fixed the next target for cleaning Ganga by 2024. According to the Ministry, Ganga will be better in the next three years and the sewage treatment plants (STPs), which are installed on all the drains on the Ganga will start by 2018. Now, Uma Bharti is confident that they will show results by 2019-20. The question arises, which claim should be considered. Is the minister right or the statements of her ministry?
The ministry said during the initial phase of the mission, there was the action plan for 144 listed drains. At that time, there were thousands of such drains in villages, towns, cities which were not been listed in the catchment area of the Ganga. This is the reason that they are not included in STP projects. The Ministry of Water Resources, state governments and local bodies have now joined hands to stop such drains from emptying into the Ganga. It is obvious that it happened because of sheer negligence. Now, the government is claiming that there will be better coordination between the center and the states if BJP wins the election from both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. That will happen because Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Aditya Nath has a special interest in this and Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Trivandrum Singh Rawat is one of the coordinators of Ganga Chamber of his party.
According to the government, the Ministry of Water Resources was unable to get adequate support as other parties were elected to govern in these two states in the past two and half years. This caused problems in cleaning the Ganga. BJP has been the ruling party in Jharkhand from past two and half years. They have been working there progressively. But the process of cleaning was not effective in other states. Either it was slow or there was no work at all.
Now the important question is that when Ganga is not cleaned from its origin, i.e. from Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, then does it make sense to talk about cleaning the Ganga in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal? Uma Bharati Ji considers Narmada as the cleanest river in the world and said that Ganga cannot be compared with Narmada. Ganga is one of the ten most polluted rivers in the world. When Narmada could be cleaned, why not Ganga? In our country these two rivers have the most religious values and faith. The Ganga is considered to be Punya Salila, Patit Pavani, Moksh Dayani. Uma Bharati Ji said Ganga is like mother to her. River Thames was declared dead in 1957 and now it is considered to be one of the cleanest rivers of the world that flows through a city. The Colorado River was also polluted in 1990 but America and Mexico got together to clean it. Now it is also one of the cleanest rivers.
Rhine River was also the most polluted river of Europe in 1986. But almost half a dozen of countries cooperated from which Rhine river passes by and today Rhine is a clean river. Then why can Ganga not be cleaned? Why is it being delayed so much? Ironically, it is happening in a country whose people are the most religious ones who after taking bath in these pious rivers, consider themselves blessed. Uma Bharati Ji also claims to clean the Yamuna River. Few years ago, it was claimed that Yamuna will be another Thames. The question that arises is that when future of the Ganges is in dark, then what will happen to Yamuna?
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