Skip to main content

"Apathy" towards open defecation in newly developed areas of Gujarat's state capital

By Kevin Antao*
Barely seven kilometres from Gujarat’s seat of power, the new Sachivalaya complex, open defecation is a reality. A newly developed area fast becoming part of the state capital, Sargasan, and part of the Gandhinagar urban development area, has proved to be a mockery of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swacch Bharat Mission (SBM), one of whose major thrusts has to free India of this despicable practice.
I have been trying my level best, asking the local newspapers of Gandhinagar to expose this massive open defecation by construction workers employed at many of the sites in Sargasan and around.
I have been wanting local government authorities, especially those who are involved in planning and development of the state capital beyond its present boundaries, to at least provide mobile toilets to these sites. But all in vain.
Clearly, SBM is a nation-wide campaign for the period 2014 to 2019 that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India's cities, towns and rural areas. But it does not seem to have touched this newly-developing area, situated behind two prestigious institutes of national importance, Infocity and Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communications Technology (DAIICT).
No doubt, the objectives of SBM, including eliminating open defecation through the construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets and establishing an accountable mechanism of monitoring toilet use, are good.
Officially launched on October 2, 2014 at Rajghat, New Delhi, by the Prime Minister as one of India’s largest cleanliness drives, its implementation in a state which he ruled for more than 13 years is tardy, thanks largely to bureaucratic apathy.
The Prime Minister’s dream project doesn’t exist in Sargasan and the surrounding areas, where massive construction activities of many a high rise building is on in full swing. At one such site, which I visited in the wee hours, around 60 migrant workers are employed and are staying in make shift tents. However, they have not been provided any toilet facilities.
Daily one can see these workers – men, women and children – right from sunrise to around 8 am and, even after dinner, walking with their water bottles to defecate in the open spaces, next to the bushes in the neighbourhood.
The situation is particularly embarrassing for those who have made this area their permanent place of living in the newly-built tenements and flats. Some health conscious men and women, young and old, can be seen going for morning walk along these roads next to the open fields with a handkerchief or a face towel on their nose, because they are unable to tolerate the stink they have to inhale due to open defecation.
If local media has failed to report this menace in spite of bringing it to their notice, builders are busy building apartments and bungalows, earning huge profits. They appear to have lost their humanity. Why can’t they provide temporary toilets at construction sites tp these workers, whereby they can carry out on their morning victuals with a certain amount of dignity?
Even the Gandhinagar Urban Development Authority (GUDA), whose offices are situated in the midst of Gandhinagar town, appears to be indifferent. It has many a mobile toilet. Why can’t GUDA officials, otherwise very active in helping out builders in developing Gandhinagar horizontally, supply such toilets to these work sites? After all, people purchase flats or bungalows in Sargasan after paying a good amount as taxes to GUDA.
---
*Senior Gandhinagar-based photo journalist. All pix by the author

Comments

Urvashi Devi said…
I can imagine . A lot of these labourers are from our district ; they are paid v well ; but the developers are not making facilities  🤔😜.
Only the other day on my way from Baria  to the airport ; there was a toilet ; near the Jugi jophdis  . A portable system . They should have those ; but water ? Cleaning ?
I remember in my school days when we went to Delhi for the Republic day parade ; in Delhi cantt; where there were 1000s of cadets ; they dug pits in a row ; covered by canvas ; they could do something like that for the labourers  ?

TRENDING

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Australia least prepared to fight Hindu 'extremism', admits diaspora NGO group

Tiranga rally in Sydney: Cause of stir among diaspora By Our Representative  The Australian Alliance Against Hate and Violence (AAAHAV) has said that Australia is “least prepared” to counter the allegedly “rising threat of Hindu far right extremism”. Calling upon politicians, federal and state governments to “urgently recognise the threat far-right Hindu extremism”, it asks “to take concrete steps to address this threat.”

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

'Viability' of agricultural cooperatives vs govt proposed pro-corporate economic model

Dr Gian Singh* The farmer struggle started from Punjab against the promulgation of three agricultural ordinances by the Union government in June 2020 and the enactment of three bills by Parliament in September 2020 to replace these ordinances is unique in many respects. There is no other example of such a peaceful and democratic farmer struggle.

Whither right to food? Social security scheme allocation for woman, child 'reduced'

Counterview Desk Pointing out that women and children have been ignored in the Union Budget 2021-22, the advocacy group Right to Food Campaign (RtFC) has said that the Government of India should have taken into account the fact that even after the lockdown was lifted, distress among marginalized communities continues, with people having lower incomes and reduced food consumption.

NAPM extends support to Indian, Aussie citizen groups 'opposing' Adani ventures

#StopAdani action in Australia  Counterview Desk  The civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), extending solidarity to the global campaign by the Youth Action to Stop Adani (YAStA), held in recently in Australia and India, has said that the effort was to bring more attention to the struggle aboriginal, indigenous peoples, farmers, working class and other oppressed communities against allegedly anti-people multinational corporate conglomerates.