Denied toilet, kids use quarry, drown

Denied toilet, kids use quarry, drown

More than a third of the world’s human population has no sanitary place to defecate. But here in a village school, where there are proper toilets, only teachers are privileged enough to use them. Not the students, two of whom died when they fell in a water-filled stone quarry on Wednesday when they were forced to attend to the call of nature under the open sky.

The two students, identified as Praveen and Prashant, both aged nine, drowned in the stone-quarry-filled water accidentally. The two, sons of agricultural labourers who belong to the Bhovi community went to school in Devakatikoppa village under Kotegangur Gram Panchayat here on Wednesday.

But after taking the mid-day meal served on the school courtyard, both rushed to the stone quarry to attend to nature’s call.

Forbidden territory

The school does have sanitary toilets but they are used by the teachers who keep them locked lest they are used by the students. The students are forbidden the use of toilets because they are allegedly not taught to flush after usage.

All this in a village which was among other villages in the Gram Panchayat to have been awarded the Nirmala Grama Puraskar and Rs 2 lakh cash prize for successful
implementation of the total sanitation campaign (TSC) in 2008.

The total sanitation drive is aimed at eradicating the high prevalence of diseases caused by water polluted with human waste. It is said that the children in Devakatikoppa are not familiar with using sanitary toilets as it is a new concept for them. The teachers are expected to teach/guide toilet etiquette to the students. In fact, it is a part of the over all education imparted at the school.

Srinivas, Secretary of Jagajyoti Yuvaka Sangha, told Deccan Herald that on several occasion villagers had urged the teachers to allow the students to use the toilets. Devakatikoppa is the first village in the State where Swajaladhara scheme was successfully implemented. So water is available round-the-clock. There is no shortage of water for cleaning the toilets either.

The Nirmala Grama Puraskar is awarded to villages where every household and education institutions have toilets and are used regularly.  With the objective of putting an end to open defecation, awareness programmes are held under TSC on the importance of using toilets.

Maintenance of the school and public toilets and waste management practices, which the local body has adopted, is also considered when award selections are made for Nirmala Grama Puraskar. As in most of the villages, in Devakatikoppa too, TSC has been a success, but only in terms of implemented civil works. It has remained a mere statistical exercise but has failed to instill toilet etiquette among the people.

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