ABHIJEET CHATTERJEE, TT, Durgapur, July 10: For long, drums have been used to chase away elephants straying into human habitats. Now, the percussion instrument will be deployed to drive away people defecating in the open.
Officials in the Durgapur subdivision have formed a team that includes drummers to chase away villagers relieving themselves in the open.
The move is aimed at making the Nirmal Bangla Abhiyan a success by December 31 in Burdwan. The project is an offshoot of the Centre’s Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan and was inaugurated by Mamata Banerjee in 2014.
Under the Nirmal Bangla project, the district administration has constructed toilets in over 35,000 BPL households in the Durgapur subdivision. Sources said the administration planned to build 15,000 more. The five blocks in the Durgapur subdivision have over 8 lakh residents, around 25 per cent of whom fall in the BPL category.
However, even after the constructions, many people are defecating in the open, sticking to the “traditional way” of doing things and pointing out that they found toilets “suffocating”.
On the instructions of district magistrate Saumitra Mohan, the clutch of officials have been roaming the fields with drummers every morning between 5 and 7 and again in the evening since last week. Durgapur subdivisional officer Sankha Santara, block development officers, panchayat functionaries and hired dhakis are chasing away villagers relieving themselves in the open.
“We had tried to explain to people in Kanksa, Madandighi and Nabagram the ill effects of open defecation, but to no avail. We will not allow them to defecate in the open any more. We have to make this mission a success,” Santara said.
If the drum ploy fails to “embarrass” the people enough, the administration plans to “take pictures of those defecating in the open and display them along with their names at panchayat offices”, an official said.
Villagers, however, raised a stink.
“It is a tradition to go to the nearby field early in the morning and relieve ourselves. Our forefathers also did that. We feel more comfortable in the open,” said Badal Barui, who lives in Madanpur village in Andal. The panchayat built a toilet at Barui’s home two months ago but he uses it to store firewood.
Day labourer Bhim Mondal said: “We feel more comfortable in the open. We find toilets suffocating. Moreover, I take a bath soon after in the nearby pond. So, what’s the harm?” Mondal, too, has a toilet at home.