Towns across the district lack sanitation facilities; people seen urinating near drains, compound walls or abandoned buildings
Budgam: The municipal committee office in this town lacks a toilet facility. Residents say that the employees are often seen urinating against the walls of their office buildings.
As J&K Government trumpets sanitation and clean environment through the Swacha Bharat Abhiyaan, the agency entrusted with providing sanitary facilities in the town is sending all the wrong messages.
The residents of town say that despite ministers’ promises of visible developmental, situation in the town was worsening.
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, aims to ensure dignity of women by providing better toilet facilities. While the scheme may take time to affect change in rural areas, major commercial areas in towns of this district here have no toilet facilities either.
Shoppers, students and office goers, mostly man, urinate in open, much to the embarrassment of passersby. Markets inMagam, Narbal, Beerwah, Khag, Khansahab, Arizal, Budgam, Chadoora, Chrar-e-Sharief, and Soibug lack public toilets.
A few toilets that exists at market places have been rendered useless overtime because of inadequate drainage system, forcing people to relieve themselves near a drain, wall or abandoned buildings.
Women are the worst hit. “We being forced to knock the doors of local residents or wait to relieve ourselves till we reach home,” said Amina Bhat, a student in Budgam.
Residents of Budgam town say that the issue of lack of toilets has been brought to the notice of executive officers of the municipal committee as well as the deputy commissioner of the district. “The situation did not improve at all,” said a shopkeeper, Mohammad Niyaz, in Budgam town. Situation is no better in other towns.
A year ago, the executive officer Beerwah, Shabir Ahmad, and exective officer Magam, Shafqat Ali, told Kashmir Reader that work for the construction of public toilets was going on. Not much progress seem to have been made since then. “Five toilet points are being constructed at a cost of Rs 650000 and will be completed soon,” Exective Officer Beerwah Shabir ahmad repeated on Wednesday.
Exective officer Muncipal Committee Khansahab, Farooq Ahmad, said that no toilet facility was available in the market. “We have plan to construct one soon,” he added.
Officials cite inadequate funds, apathetic approach of municipal committee officers and negligence of district administration as the reasons behind poor sanitation in market places.
Irshad Ahmad, a school teacher from Khag says that relieving themselves was a nuisance for people in general and a nightmare for women in particular. “Most of the time, people urinate in open. Sometimes they also defecate in places where public movement is limited. Children especially are made to defecate wherever the urgency arises,” he said. “An added irritation is that the water bodies in vicinity of these places are polluted. The sewage finally makes its way to water bodies.”
“Village Khag, once known for its fresh water springs, for example, is the victim of such apathy and negligence. The water of Spring “Narain Nag”, located in the main market of the town, is not fit for drinking anymore.”
Sheikh Gulzar, a social activist, advocates that local communities should take charge of the situation and construct sanitation facilities. “When we believe that cleanliness is half Emaan (faith) why don’t we take majors at local level to keep the surroundings clean,” he says. “The job of the municipal council was to keep the municipal limits clean, but they mostly grab the salary and ignore their job.”
He fears that open defecation can lead epidemics if not checked well in time.