A friend, who is working for the cause of sanitation in the country, encountered a strange situation in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi as even the construction of community toilets couldn’t prevent people from defecating in the open.

When asked, the locals responded, “Sahab din mei ek baar toh yahan karne mei hi mazaa aata hai.”

So, on the one hand we have Akshay Kumar’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, releasing this Friday, that aims at spreading more awareness for the cause of sanitation in India. But on the other, there’s this near-constipated culture of sheer ignorance that is a total contrast to all such efforts.

 

The latest report from the Rapid Survey on Swachhta Status, conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) during May-June 2015, indicates that a shocking 52.1 percent of people still defecate in the open in rural India.

It stems from the fact that only 45.3 percent households were reported to have sanitary toilets while only 42.5 percent of these have access to water for use. In these areas, 55.4 percent households contribute to open defecation.

Out of the near-4,000 villages surveyed, a touch above 13 percent of them have community toilets. Around 23 percent do not even have any designated cleaning system in place while residents from 17 percent carry out the maintenance by themselves.  

When it comes to waste management, 44.4 percent of these villages have no drainage arrangement at all. Around 56 percent though have a sewer network for disposal of liquid waste.

Close to 64 percent of these areas have a dumping ground for solid waste but only 48 percent are being cleaned everyday and around 5 percent are not being cleaned by any means.

Of course the situation is much better in the urban areas with close to 90 percent of households comprising proper toilets. However, the management of liquid waste is properly handled in only 36 percent of these areas.

All figures and stats point out the grave reality of the situation that won’t turn around simply by the announcement of the Swachha Bharat Abhiyans of the world. What needs to change is our outlook towards hygiene, which has to be directly linked with health.

Till then, people will continue to have fun taking a dump in the open, if not even bonding with their fellow poopers on these occasions while we, sitting in our air-conditioned offices, keep on sulking.