Bhopal, May 7, 2014: An attempt to shame those who defecate in the open by comparing them to animals has evoked a strong reaction in Bhopal’s Harda district.
A hoarding showing a man and a dog defecating in the open — with a caption that read: “Animals can’t use toilets but you can. Have you built your toilet?” — was stoned by vandals within 24 hours of being erected.
The administration, however, claimed they had received a “positive response to the campaign” in the district where about 27,000 families don’t have a toilet at home.
“We haven’t spent anything on traditional messages because they are not effective. Everyone is aware of the campaign against open defecation but they are not ready to change,” chief executive officer of Harda district panchayat, Ganesh Shankar Mishra, said while explaining “operation mal yudhha”.
The hoarding that was stoned Saturday was erected in the district panchayat building. But people living nearby said the hoarding was offensive and wanted it removed. Social activists also felt it was in poor taste. “If we put officers and dogs on the same hoarding to compare their shouting with barking, will they accept it?” asked Anurag Modi of the Shramik Adivasi Sangathan.
However, Mishra said the administration had come up with the strategy after talking to sarpanches and other stakeholders. “It’s a brave step that required guts,” he said.
Following the “violent reaction”, the administration has now erected a new hoarding next to the old one congratulating locals for getting “uncomfortable and angry”. It further reads: “Harda has now awakened. No more defecating in the open, the practice is a blot on the civilised. Oppose it.”
The administration has also distributed posters to 45 sarpanches, but so far, none have been put up.
The administration has also trained 100 persons, including government officials, volunteers and representatives of NGOs, to persuade villagers to shun the practice. (Source: The Financial Express)