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Open defecation continues in Ron taluk, belies survey

Rayan Mitra

Open defecation in Ron taluk

Three weeks ago, Ron taluk, in north Karnataka, was declared an area free of open defecation. Of the 38,537 households, 38,443 were reported to have toilets, 86 had access to community toilets, and eight were without toilets.
Amragol, Hirehal and Hullur villages were yet to accomplish 100% open defecation-free status.

But the reality is very different from the claim made in a panchayat survey report made public on October 31. Open defecation is rampant in some villages.

Riyaaz Kazi, a panchayat first division clerk, informed The Observer: “The most we can do is to build toilets; we can’t force people to use them. People’s mentality will take time to change.”

Schools in Belavanaki and Yavagal villages lack basic sanitation facilities. Students are seen defecating in the open during school hours. An area in Yavagal has only one toilet for 13 families.

Sarenappa, a resident, said: “Most of the times, the toilet is full. So we have no option but to defecate in the open.”

Sanitation infrastructure is poor, forcing people to defecate in the open. Some of the quarters provided under the Grameen Ashraya Scheme lack toilets.
“There are no toilets, and we have to walk a long distance to defecate in the open even when we are sick” said Manjula, a resident of the government quarters.

Open defecation poses a health threat during monsoon as human feces are washed into stagnant water bodies from where villagers collect their drinking water. People of Yavagal, Asuti and Belavanaki village collect water from lakes and ponds. One of them residents offered this reporter a bottle of the lake water he had collect for drinking.

Dr Arvind, a doctor at the Savadi public health centre, said surveys have been conducted on the drinkability of lake water. If it is found unfit to drink, announcements are made in the villages, but the residents say purified water doesn’t quench their thirst and result in joint pains.

“We cannot force them to drink purified water.”

Dr Arvind added: “The contaminated water does not have immediate effect but serves as leading factor in water-borne diseases like cholera, diarrhea and hepatitis.  A lot of water-borne and infectious diseases are caused due to defecating in the open. Building toilets will witness a fall in cases of these diseases.”