Pay and use: Open defecation comes with a price tag

A woman walks into the field at Anaksugur village in Surpur (Shorapur) taluk of Yadgir district where open defecation is still prevalent. DH Photo (Picture for representation)

Karnataka’s open defecation-free (ODF) tag was always taken with a pinch of salt, but consider this: thousands of labourers in the IT capital are paying a fee to access a piece of land to empty their bowels.

The labourers who arrive to eke out a living stay in slums in and around Bengaluru. Needless to say, many of them do not have the luxury of toilets, considering the absence of public infrastructure, leaving them with no option but to do the deed in the open.

But in Horamavu, a bizzare practice has been going on, in which labourers are paying to defecate

More than 200 families from Telangana have been staying on a private land for the past 25 years in Horamavu.

The thousand-strong community includes construction workers, farmhands and those engaged in cleaning and other jobs.

Rs 200 per family

While the officials vacate those raising tents on government land, the owner of the property has allowed them to stay free of cost. However, he charges Rs 200 per family of four to five people to use a patch of land with shrubs for open defecation.

“Rs 200 per month is not a burden for a family. The landowner regularly brings an excavator to remove the filth and renew top soil. There are separate parts of the land dedicated for men and women,” said one of the workers.

Prakash, a neighbour, said he was amazed by the arrangement. “The landlord is not at fault. But why couldn’t the BBMP build a community toilet when they know that these families have been staying here for more than 25 years? Instead, the authorities are peddling open defecation-free tag,” he said.

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