Skip to main content

Is Ahmedabad open defecation free? Evidence suggests otherwise, wide prevalence of manual scavenging

A manual scavenger cleans up dry toilet in Ahmedabad
By Our Representative
Amidst Gujarat's business capital, Ahmedabad, all set to be “officially” declared open defecation free (ODF) on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's arrival in the city on October 17 for the World Kabaddi Festival, the Gujarat Safai Kaamdar Adhikar Andolan (GSKAA) has collected 50-odd video footages and hundreds of photographs across the city to call it a bluff. 
Collected over three days, October 2 – the day on which Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani declared “urban areas”, including Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace Porbandar, as ODF – October 5 and on October 7, the video footages and photographs have been submitted to the Ahmebabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to "prove" that the government's claims are false.
A new collective of activists working with manual scavengers, GSKAA's evidence is mainly from five areas Juna Vadaj, Shankar Bhuvan, Nagori Vad, Mirzapur and Narol, where slum-dwellers defecate in the open, and sanitation workers manually clean it up. 
Going into the open on Oct 5
“This is an open violation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, which came into force on December 6, 2013”, says GSKAA's Jitendra Rathod, the chief campaigner against the despicable practice which was termed “shame of the nation” by Gandhi.
“The Act bans manual scavenging and considers employing manual scavengers a criminal, non-bailable offence, yet there is nothing to suggest that Ahmedabad's authorities, as also of the 117 towns 'declared' ODF, are keen to implement it. Dry latrines, similarly, are banned, as they would require manual scavenging. They exist in scores in the name of baby toilets”, Rathod says.
In one video footage, the caretaker of a public toilet in a slum area is heard saying, “There are just six latrines in the public toilet for a population of 6,000. How do you expect people to use public toilets. People, including women, go in the open, and sanitary workers are made to clean it up, sometimes in the wee hours, at 3.00 in the morning.”
A woman manual scavenger tells the GSKAA team, which visited a large number of areas to point out that Ahmedabad is far from being ODF, that as a sanitary worker she not only cleans up toilets “but also the footpath on which people defecate in the open early in the morning, before sunrise.”
The Gujarat government's effort to showcase Ahmedabad as ODF began on May 25. On that day, an advertisement put up in a vernacular daily sought objections from 34 wards, which the AMC wished to declare ODF. This was followed by another advertisement, which “declared” another 12 spots as ODF.
“We handed over colour 54 photographs as proof of the prevalence of open defecation”, says Rathod, adding, “We also told them that, by adding up the number of toilets, Ahmedabad does not become ODF. You require water and drainage connections to make the toilets work.”
A woman manual scavenger in Ahmedabad
Asking the Gujarat government to “withdraw” any effort it may have made to declare Ahmedabad ODF under the Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan, Rathod said, “During a tele-conversation with senior AMC officials, they admitted that there was open declaration. However, when we said the state government should withdraw its efforts, this was not taken kindly.”
Rathod says, “Our survey suggests that there are 200 spots in Ahmedabad where open defecation takes place. We have complete list of these spots, and have even handed it over the state government on June 25, 2016. Yet there is little effort to come to grips with this.”

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.