Swachh Bharat

Kusumanchi mandal in Khammam district of Telangana will soon be declared Open Defection Free, after authorities worked tirelessly over the last few years to achieve this goal.

But there is a catch here: Authorities have taken an undertaking from the houses that they will build these toilets in 2-3 days, failing which they have to pay a Rs 25,000 fine or their property would be seized.

This isn’t the first time authorities are using coercive measures to make residents build toilets. In the past, they have cut off electricity, water and even threatening that they would stop receiving their pensions.

So far, 36 persons have been ‘booked’ and have been forced to sign the undertaking.

“The bind over case have already yielded positive results as 21 out of the 36 households have agreed to construct the toilets,” said Mandal Revenue Officer, G Krishna.

“if they fail to build the toilets, their property will be seized,” he explained.

The 162 households yet to build the toilets belong to the hamlets of Gaigollapalli, Gorepaduthanda, Kokyathana Hiramaltanda, Guravaigudem, Narsimhulagudem, Nelapatla and Gattu Singaram.

The mandal was given a target of building 5,588 toilets, out of which 4,778 have been constructed. The construction of 648 toilets are underway and the remaining 162 households are yet to toe the line.

Mandal Parishad Development Officer Vijaya Chandana said, “We threatened them with stopping their pension, although we didn’t stop it. We stopped power supply and water supply, yet they continued to defecate in the open. So we approached the Mandal Revenue Officer asking them to book bind over cases against these people.”

“These cases and intimidation might instill fear in them and maybe they’ll prioritise constructing toilets then,” she added.

TNM tried reaching District Collector Lokesh Kumar to ask if he approved of these coercive measures taken by the local administration. However, he remained unavailable.

But later it learnt that these drastic measures are being taken following the directions of the Collector.

Kusumanchi is not the only mandal where authorities have been threatening and intimidating households without toilets, across the districts authorities have been replicating the same model.