'Dalits continue to live under tough conditions'

'Dalits continue to live under tough conditions'

A majority of Dalits in the country live under difficult conditions, as per latest Census reports.

While most of them are forced to defecate in the open and having very little access to Internet or gas connection among other amenities, the reports said.

A large number of them live in one-room houses with mud floors, use firewood, cow-dung cakes or crop residues for cooking purposes and depend on kerosene for lighting. At least half of them are still not part of the banking world, TV and mobile telephony.

The latest Census reports on Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) showed that much more is needed to improve the lives of Dalits in the country by providing better connectivity, housing, water and sanitation facilities.

Though only 8.1 per cent of  SC households in the country are in dilapidated conditions, a scrutiny showed 66.1 per cent of the households do not have latrines on their premises.

It will be a huge task for the government to make the Swachh Bharat initiative a success as members of 62.1 per cent of SC households defecate in the open. While 33.9 per cent use the facilities in their own houses, only 4.1 per cent use public comfort stations.

On open defecation, Bihar has the highest figure at 88.4 per cent followed by Jharkhand (86.2) and Odisha (85.2).

Inadequate sanitation facilities in rural areas are actually increasing the numbers in this regard.

Family members of 95.1 per cent of SC households in rural areas of Jharkhand defecate in open while in Madhya Pradesh, the figure is 90.9 per cent. The states whose open defecation percentage is more than 80 per cent in rural areas include: Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Karnataka has an overall open defecation figure of 63.2 per cent—rural 80 per cent and urban 22.7 per cent.

Electricity has reached 59 per cent of SC households but 39.5 per cent still use kerosene for lighting purposes. Solar energy is a distant third at 0.4 per cent.
DH News Service