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ODF+ status? Ahmedabad's 14% slumdwellers defecate in the open: HDRC survey

By Our Representative
The Government of India may have “upgraded” Ahmedabad to “open defecation free (ODF) plus” status, following a third party audit “certifying” that the city has “hygienic and usable public toilets”. But a recent survey by the civil rights organization, Human Development and Research Centre (HDRC), has revealed that 13.71 of the slum-dwelling families – 1,030 out of 7,512 – are forced to go out in the open to defecate, allegedly because there are no public toilets for them.
Carried out among 24 slum pockets across the city, individual testimonies suggest that at several of the places there are no public toilets, and if public toilets are there they are non-functional, and representations to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) officials have elicited replies like the AMC has “no money” to lay down gutter lines, and that the complainants should do is to “go and represent to the elected representative.”
Talking with newspersons in Ahmedabad, two slumdwellers – 35-year-old Jyotsnaben Maheshbhai Dantani from Laxminagar Chapra in Chandkheda and 25-year-old Komalben Bhikhubhai Patni from Ghodacamp in Asarwa – testified that they had to suffer miscarriage because they fell down while going for the call of nature in the open during monsoon.
Sumarben Somaji Thakore, 50, and Hansaben Jayantibhai Thakore, 44, reported that at least 30 families from the slum settlement where they live – Kolsanu Deru in Asarwa – are forced to defecate in the open, something they are doing for more than two decades, and “none in the authorities cares to listen” to their representation for having a public toilet.
An HDRC note on the survey gives the examples of Nileshbhai Dolatsinh Chauhan, 39, from Kolsanu Deru in Asarwa, and Manjulaben Ratanbhai Patni, 60, from Asarwa talav area. Both are physically challenged, yet are forced to defecate in the open. In yet another example, 85-year-old Dhaniben Arjanbhai Solanki is forced to go out in the open with the help of two other women, because she cannot walk longer distance.

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