Since the roll out of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on 2nd October 2014, several initiatives to stop open defecation has been taken by individuals and the officials across the nation. Pune has already been declared open defecation-free (ODF).
However, to maintain the status, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has formed ‘good morning’ and ‘good evening’ squads to stop the people from defecating in the open.
Good Morning / Evening Squads
The Maharashtra government had ordered the formation of the ‘good morning’ squads to monitor and to prevent open defecation in the districts and the villages across the whole state.
Suresh Jagtap, the Joint Municipal Commissioner of PMC’s solid waste management department, said, “In keeping with the state government orders, we have formed squads to stop open defecation in the city areas.”
The Top Echelons Grounded
An order has been issued on 1st September 2017, by the state government, that under the ‘Swachh Maharashtra (urban area) programme’, all high-level civic officials will be part of these squads. The order has been issued to all corporations and local self-governments.
The state government wants the mayor, the assistant municipal commissioner of A and B Class corporations, and the local corporators to be a part of the squads. They should patrol the city every morning (good morning squad) and evening (good evening squad), to keep a vigil on the people who are defecating in the open.
The Swachh Maharashtra programme is the flagship programme of Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis. It aims to carry forward the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Corporators who do not follow the directives will have to face disciplinary action.
Some corporators have welcomed the order, while others are not keen to start and end their official work, by maintaining vigilance of people defecating in the open.
Nitin Udas, who is the Assistant Municipal Commissioner of PMC, is happy with the order. He has been accompanying the morning squad before the directive was issued. It helped him understand the ground reality and the problems related to open defecation that the squad officers faced.
Those who are not pleased with the idea argue that it is the job of civic officials to patrol the city. Corporators are supposed to spread awareness among the residents and not get involved in the ground-level work.
Monitoring By The Squads
The squad needs to send a report on the Swachh Maharashtra WhatsApp group by 11 o’clock each morning. The messages comprise:
- OD Seen – If someone is caught defecating in the open
- No OD seen – If no one is found defecating in the open
“If the team finds people who, despite having access to toilets, relieve themselves in the open, it will impose heavy fines on them,” reads the resolution.
The squads will visit spots in the city till 2nd October. Habitual offenders will be fined by the municipal corporation. Others who are a part of the squads are self-help groups, NGOs, students, and local self-government representatives. Besides monitoring the habit of open defecation, the squad will create awareness and educate people on the hazards of open defecation.
Source: Pune Mirror