AURANGABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have declared India ‘open defecation free’ ( ODF ) on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, but the claim rings hollow in rural and semi-urban Marathwada thanks to water scarcity .
People here cannot afford to use water for toilets when they are struggling to even get water to drink. Even in areas within the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) limits, people have to relieve themselves in open.
According to Amol Hiramal Dehade, a resident of Dehade Nagar near Ambar Hill, Jatwada, the historic hill has become a toilet for around 500 local residents. “Men go out in the open, while women have found a half-built structure on the hill to relieve themselves. Some people have built toilets under the government’s Swachh Bharat scheme, but they are of no use as there is no water,” Dehade said. The area is yet to be connected to the AMC’s pipeline network.
Activist Ayyub Patel said the areas of Phule Nagar, Harsul and Chetna Nagar have been in the municipal body for the past 30 years. “One person requires at least 5 to 10 litres of water for daily hygiene. But to this date, people don't have adequate drinking water,” he said.
For residents of Satara village, which is in the AMC area, the glossy government campaign with Amitabh Bachchan’s slogan of ‘Darwaza Band Karo’ makes little sense. Activist Sominath Shirane said they have to pay for drinking water jars or must travel 1-2km for drinking water. Water for toilets is a luxury here.
Hemant Kolhe, AMC executive engineer, said, “If people demand water and pay for it, we can send them tankers,” he said. However, Kolhe could not explain how 200 litres of water for a family can meet hygiene needs.
In Beed district’s Sangam Jalgaon, a board put up by Zilla Parishad reads that the village is ODF. Resident Ramprasad Nagare said people, including deputy sarpanch of the village, go out in open to relieve themselves. “When we get drinking water once in 5-6 days through tankers, where is the scope to use water in toilets,” he said.