No this is not some fake news or humour article. In fact, it’s a very serious issue that has come to the fore in villages across Goa. When Goa was declared an Open Defecation Free (ODF) state on October 31, it was because as part of the Swachh Bharat scheme, provisions were made to prevent villagers without access to sanitary facilities to defecate in Government provided mobile toilet units. But now these mobile toilets seem to be disappearing, and the local panchayats do not have a clue as to where they are. In a report by Murari Shetye in the Times of India dated December 2, 2019, Shetye says that the panchayats have filed police complaints in order to attempt tracking them down, and the investigation is underway.
The setting up of a mobile toilet system
In order to declare the state ODF, the directorate of panchayats constructed over 500 toilets (mobile and stationary) in rural areas across Goa. Months later, however, when the contractors visited the sites where these toilets were installed, they found that they were missing. In some cases where the toilets were there, it was found that some of them were being used as storerooms, or the doors were missing rendering them useless. This was reported immediately to the panchayats. A senior government official reportedly said that while some of the mobile toilets have been found, there are still many that are missing. He also shared his disdain for the fact that this initiative was being abused.
Tracking down the toilets
There are a number of reasons why and how these toilets have gone missing. In one case, a panch member had the toilets relocated to a different site without informing anyone. On investigation, it was later found in another location. In another case in the Mormugao taluka, a panchayat member admitted that as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, two toilets were installed by contractors, but have since gone missing. When the panchayat secretary visited the site and found the toilets missing, the matter was immediately brought to the attention of the Sarpanch. When inquiries were made with the nearby residents, they were not even aware that there were toilets had gone missing, especially since there were no security guards stationed.
The panchayats claim that since the toilets are government property, it’s up to the police to conduct inquiries and take action according to the law. What do you think should be done? Is this a scheme worth pursuing if people are not going to make proper use of it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.