KOZHIKODE: The focus of achieving the State government’s objective to declare Kerala as open defecation free (ODF) on November 1, seems to be limited to constructing toilets in various Panchayats in the District, because the Municipalities and Kozhikode Corporation have not fulfilled these basic requirements. At the same time, most of the installed toilets in the city’s prominent spots have stopped functioning, leaving a few in working condition but not maintained properly.
As part of the project, Kozhikode District alone has taken up the mission to construct 16, 551 toilets, in which 13,605 would be in 70 grama panchayats and the remaining 2, 946 in municipalities and Kozhikode Corporation. But Kozhikode Corporation in all these months could only construct less than 400 toilets and other municipalities have reported constructing fewer than 250 toilets.
“Apart from the high hopes to get more toilets in the city, the Corporation had already introduced an‘e-toilet’ facility, hyped as the first of its kind to be launched in the entire country, but has remained a damp squib ever since its launch”, said MA Johnson, Green activist. Public toilets are not usable because of the lack of cleanliness, electricity and water. As no efforts are made by the local bodies to maintain them, e-toilets in the district are also in poor condition.
The mission of ODF will only be meaningful, when the city has sufficient clean toilets in public places, or else the District will not attain the stature. Women especially were reluctant to use the toilet, as they were not comfortable with the technology used in the e-toilet, so a simple clean toilet should be installed rather than a complicated one, he said. The members of the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) have also called on the authorities to ensure that public toilets in the district are clean, safe and women-friendly.
Student groups to hold campaigns for ODF Kozhikode
On one side, Government officials have a hectic schedule to complete the procedures to meet the requirements of the open defecation free status by constructing more toilets in the District, on the other side, students representing various organisations here have decided to conduct a mouth to mouth campaign to promote the ODF mission in the District. Students of organisations like NSS, SPC, NCC and environment clubs have taken up the initiative to talk to the public in person and in groups urging them not to defecate in public places.
Talking about the initiative, NSS coordinator Justin Jerry said, “Noticing a person defecating in public places is indeed an embarrassing moment, but students will take up the mission to stop such deeds here. The NSS has decided to take initiatives to stick posters in various parts of the city that are mostly used by the public as a defecation area, even though it is not”. Similarly volunteers of other organisations will also take up initiatives to stop the practice of open defecation, so that the city can soon be declared with the status of ODF. In addition flash mobs will be held in various public places as part of the awareness campaign.