Shahjahanpur (Uttar Pradesh) [India] Nov 29 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Mission, aimed at building more toilets, especially in the rural part of the country to prevent open defecation and faecal pollution, is inspiring many families in Uttar Pradesh to commit themselves to a resolution that their daughters will get married only to those men who own a toilet within the premises of their houses. However, this part of the Swachh Bharat Campaign has left many young men in Singra-Singrahi village of Shahjahanpur district in the state unmarried as girls' parents do not want to marry off their daughters in houses that do not have toilets.
"Pichhlay do saal se ye samasya hai. Rishtey nahi aa raahe hain kyunki hamare gharon mein toilet nahi hai. Log kehte hain ki hamari betiyon ko khuley mein shuach karna hoga isliye shadi nahi karenge jab tak toilet nahi banega." (For the last two years we have been facing this problem. Our boys are not getting brides because people say that we do not have toilets in our houses and they cannot marry their daughters off to households where they are forced to go in open to relieve themselves," said Kartar of Singra-Singrahi village. Another woman Laung Shree added, "Sab kehtey hain pehle toilet banwayo fir shadi ki baat karo (Everyone says first make toilet then talk about marriage)".
The case sounds similar to Akshay Kumar's movie, 'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha', which addressed the problems faced by women who do not have access to toilets. Based on a true story, the film showcased that in a patriarchal society the women were allowed to go to defecate only once in a day. The movie also highlighted the issue of basic hygiene, gender discrimination and a wish of women to have toilets in their houses.
Singra-Singrahi village is under Bhawal Kheda block of Shahjahanpur. For the last two years the households are feeling the pressure to build toilets in their premises by neighbouring villagers who do not want to send their daughters as brides to the houses that do not have toilets. Singra-Singrahi village comprises of mainly Scheduled Caste population.
Villagers also blamed laxity of the concerned workers and officers due to which this village has been continuously facing the problem with regard to sanitation. The locals said that while the officials have been claiming to make all villages free from open defecation, the reality on ground is much different as several villages are yet to benefit from the government schemes.
Women of Singra-Singrahi, which is 10 km away from Shahjahanpur city, too are not very happy with the present situation and they are forced to defecate in open despite several rape incidents have been reported in this village. Such incidents have instilled fear among women and they go in groups to relieve themselves. "Mahila apradh badh rahe hain aur hamey khule mein jaaney se daarr lagta hai (Crime against women are rising and we are scared of defecating in the open)," said Khushboo, a resident of this village. Another resident Itwari echoed her views.
Locals blamed the village head for not adding their names for the government grant for building toilets in the area. They accused that the 'pradhan' instead provided two toilets each to his relatives and friends.
Meanwhile, the Chief Development Officer of the district, Prerna Sharma denied any flawed involvement of the village pradhans in the building of toilets. "Under Swacch Bharat Mission, the priority is to make the villages open defecation free (ODF) and to spread the awareness of cleanliness and hygiene among the people. Around 2,20,886 toilets were already set in the different villages of Shahjahanpur. In the process, some villages were skipped at that time and we are doing an investigation to add their names to the list by November 30," Sharma told ANI.
However, the villagers question that despite concerted efforts of the government why is taking so long to address the basic sanitation needs and to build toilets in their homes. (ANI)