Srinagar: As confused parents found a note with their wards, that asked them to confirm that they did not defecate in the open, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) is all set to declare Srinagar as Open Defecation Free (ODF) state.
The note is part of a survey being conducted by the SMC under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA), which is a campaign in India that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India’s cities, smaller towns, and rural areas.
While the Rural Development Department is working on various centrally sponsored schemes like Swachh Bharat Mission, SMC authorities say that the result of the survey would only be positive to declare it as an ODF state.
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To ease up the surveying process, the authorities told Free Press Kashmir that all the government and private school have been asked to assist in collecting the data.
SMC has sent a declaration format to the schools which are to be signed by the students and their guardians.
The parents of these students say that on Wednesday they were taken aback to see a declaration certificate, asking them to declare that ‘neither they, nor their family members go out for defecation and that they use the toilet at home or use a community toilet in the neighbourhood, for defecation’.
“How do they expect a child of a family who pays their exorbitant fees to defecate in open? It is an ironical question being asked,” said one of the parents who thinks that the survey should be done in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions.
“Even if, for a minute, someone defecates in public, do you think they will declare it on school diary of a child? Won’t they feel humiliated in front of the classmates and school authorities?” asked the parent who had sent the declaration back unsigned.
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Adding, he said, “Instead, they should go door to door and check. Moreover, they (authorities) should check on these Yatris who urinate in the Dal Lake. Instead, they should check how many men or labourers urinate in public in Srinagar. You cannot call a place Open Defecation Free if people have toilets at home.”
The Chief Sanitation Officer, SMC says that it is a good thing.
“We have sent the forms via private and government schools. While people defecate in public in other parts of India, here, in Srinagar, it doesn’t happen as everyone has a home with toilets attached. We want to declare it as ODF and hence, the survey is being conducted,” he says.
“The data is still being collected. It is obvious that we have an ODF state,” he added.
The Nodal Officer of SMC working on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan could not be contacted for his comments.