Municipal officials feel that awareness building rather than penalties is the way to eradicate open defecation in Udupi

Udupi officials want to stop open defecation with garlands instead of fines
news Swachh Bharat Thursday, April 21, 2016 - 16:20

In a bid to eradicate open defecation in Udupi in Karnataka, the Municipal Council is adopting an unusual course of action. The council is not fining or penalising offenders. Instead, people found defecating in the open, whilst having toilets in their homes, will be garlanded.

Taken up under the Swachh Bharat Mission, with a mandate to make Udupi an ‘open-defecation free’ city by October 2016, the initiative is an attempt to educate people in over 8 colonies in the city, about the ill-effects of open defecation. Making the rounds of these colonies, the Council started the initiative on Tuesday.

“Our aim was not to poke fun or insult these people,” said Raghavendra, the council’s environmental engineer, observing that the council was instead trying to build awareness on open defecation. Having already identified the most common places for open defecation, the council set up around 8 teams to monitor these colonies, early in the morning. These colonies include the likes of Nittur, Aadi Udupi and Beedinagudde.

Municipal Commissioner D. Manjunathaiah said that the distinction between those with access to functional toilets and those without was being kept in mind. “There are some who defecate in the open, while having functioning toilets at their homes, while there are others who do not have the facility,” he said. The Municipal drive is targeted at the former.

However, the initiative will also penalise landlords that do not provide sanitation facilities. “People from these colonies are commonly construction workers, some of them migrant workers, who aren’t given fundamental sanitation facilities by their land owners,” explained Raghavendra. “We are in the process of fining these owners for promoting open defecation and manual scavenging,” he continues.

The council is also seeking to educate and encourage people to make use of the subsidies provided under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the Municpal Corporation, for toilet construction. “The problem lies rampant only in about 5 per cent of the population in the city. We plan to extend the initiative until open defecation is entirely eradicated,” the Municipal Commissioner said. 

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