The Curse of Open Defecation

The Curse of Open Defecation

When you look for an apartment or paying guest room for yourself, following questions are mostly in our checklist

“Is washroom attached? “

“Do I have to share it with the fellow flat mate or roommate “.

Most of us reject the room/apartment if washroom isn’t attached or if we have to share it with someone else.

Now imagine this

You are sharing your toilet with 40 to 50 people at a time.

Imagine you are doing it in front of opposite gender in open.

To the top of it, the place where you defecate is located a kilometer away from your house.

Fecal contamination causes death of 200,000 children every year.

Sound horrible? Yes because it is horrible.

Such is the story of Jai Hind camp, a slum near the posh area of Vasant Kunj.

I assure you the people living there are made up of same DNA as yours.

I was there for baseline survey when I got chance to Interact with the community leader Fatima.

Quiet recently FORCE has constructed Community Toilet Complex over there with intervention of DUSIB. Fatima   was thankful for that but due to non provision of electricity, the toilet isn’t working yet.

Fatima is working hard to get BSES agree to provide electricity to the toilet complex in her area.

Meanwhile she revealed some heart melting details to me, like

“How their legs are full of insect bites” , “How common are there the diseases like diarrhea, intestinal worm infections, etc.”

She further added that women go for toileting under cover of darkness.

Teary eyed Fatima goes saying “open defecation is a curse”.

Being a community leader she is strong woman though, and is positive that Toilet complex soon would be working.

Toilets must be demand-driven, and the demand can come from women like Fatima. 

Open Defecation Free or Free Open Defecation?

Open Defecation Free or Free Open Defecation?

How many of you went to watch the movie”Toilet-Ek Prem Katha”? May be most of you have watched already,since the movie has already Collected above 100 Crore INR at Box Office. It must be worth a watch. I suppose it is posing threat to new releases. That is that. But how many of you read about Twinkle Khanna’s tweet the other day?

Neither movie nor its profit/threats concerned me. It was the picture shared by Twinkle Khanna which was actually of a concern.

Twinkle Khanna shared her Selfie pointing towards a man openly and freely defecating on the beach, captioning the picture as “Good morning and I guess here is the first Scene of Toilet Ek Prem Katha part 2”.

According to the follow up tweets from the actress it was further implied that the place has ODF certification and she further said “The public toilet is a 7-8 minute Walk from this particular spot…”

You might just laugh it off, or you might just roast Twinkle Khanna for her Sardonicism. But it is the sad truth thrown in our faces.

“One billion people worldwide still practice “open defecation.” India alone has an estimated 600 million people defecating openly, according to a study by the United Nations.India leads the world in open defecation,contaminating drinking water sources.(As per leading newspaper)

Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the “Clean India” campaign, which aims to end open defecation by October 2, 2019 and promises to install 75 million toilets across the country.

We at FORCE have been working regarding sanitation problem since last 10 Years and we have the on ground experience regarding the sanitation problems faced by people dwelling in slums. Sometimes it is not the lack of facilities that man is compelled to defecate openly but sometimes it is just the Habit; there is no shame or guilt in people when they defecate openly, because it is Normal for them(Main Madaan Ho k Aaya hoo).

I don’t know what were the actual reasons which compelled that person to choose the beach for the byproducts of his digestion. The beach is something we imagine as our holiday destination, where we look at vast ocean and realize how tiny we are and yet so powerful, and where we go to seek peace of mind and feel Close To nature(by watching something pleasant to eyes, not something sore).Beach offers something for every taste, but that does not mean we should exploit it with our degradable or non-degradable waste.

India is a developing country, we, as citizens are equally responsible for the development of the country .Development of a nation is not the concern of government only; it should be concern for all of us. Rather than roasting Twinkle Khanna or Government, we should take right steps to ensure that India is open defecation free by 2019.

Koode Wali

Koode Wali

By Zeenat Farooq – Documentation & Training Coordinator – FORCE


This is what THEY called me while I was inspecting the work of waste pickers, for one of our projects on SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT at Saharanpur.

This was my first official site visit and I was excited. While I was traveling from Delhi to Saharanpur, in that four-hour train journey, I was reading about the history of Saharanpur, its archaeological, geographical, physical features.

I was amazed.

Saharanpur has witnessed many civilizations, the oldest dates back to 2000 BC. The mighty war of Mahabharata, arrival of Aryans, Mughals has made Saharanpur culturally rich.

Saharanpur Nagar Nigam as a city is vying to be selected for the urbanization and development under both the ‘smart city' scheme and the AMRUT scheme which is to be funded by the central government of India.

“Wait!! A smart city with solid waste management problem, Irony! “

Yes the same waste that is generated by us and which adds up to a big number of 55 million tons.

You read it right.

55 million tons in India alone.

It seemed hard to digest but once I was there, I didn’t need to look for any hidden proof.

The proof I was looking for is littered everywhere around me.

Then one of colleagues goes saying “Ma’am this is the better version of Saharanpur that you are seeing”.

FORCE, as a CSR partner of ITC Limited  is working in Saharanpur for Solid waste management to make the city garbage free since last 4 months. As Jyoti Sharma, President FORCE says, “in these four months we have been able to make a significant improvement in the solid waste management  initiative in the areas we are working in Saharanpur.”

I was telling my brain “stop it right there, you don’t need to picture something’s past”

So my colleague took me for site visit, his olfactory lobes seemed used to the usual pungent hydrogen sulphide smell, but my victoria secret perfume had given up, I had this deo in my bag. I took it out and started spraying on him (not caring it is for ladies), on myself too. I felt like every oxygen molecules has bonded with hydrogen sulphide for non-ending relationship.

And on my way he goes on saying “people blame government, government blame people, you know same story “

I was like “wait, in this story we don’t need to establish hell of a judicial system to figure out who is to be blamed, it is us – the WASTE GENERATORS, We generate waste, we litter it and then we just can't go on looking for a head to blame, every man for himself “

It is clear here without any doubt as to who is primarily responsible.

It is the same housewife who is still infected by “not in my backyard “syndrome”, It is the same head of the family who fights with local municipality guy to place dustbin somewhere else but not near his house, it is the same mother who throw diapers of babies around, and waits for some not so important / worthless person to come and pick it up,
It is the same woman who throws sanitary napkin away without even hint of warning to same “not so important/worthless person“, It is the same man who spits a mouthful of pan on the road.

Walking with stole masking my nose and mouth, I reached the SORTING SHEDS, I inspected COMPOST, met the supervisors who look after this sorting shed. They supervise the work of two more segregators there who sort the waste into recyclable waste/non-recyclable waste.

Our respected waste generators handover waste to worthless waste collectors without any segregation. Following one of our waste pickers to check his work efficiency, I saw people handing him the waste all mixed up, vegetable peels, diapers, plastic bottles, paper – all in one polythene bag. He takes it, puts it in his rickshaw and moves on to next HOUSE, too intimidated to speak about sorting the waste at the Source.

So I took a little courage and talked to one of ladies only to get her meek response. With a defeat I followed the waste picker for the next house.

That is when someone behind my back asked who is she?

To which another person replied “aray koode wali hai“

So Let me Re – define the koode wali/wala in your language:

Koode wali is the dumb/not so important/worthless person who cleans the mess of more genius persons who think that except their house the whole earth is a dumpster!

If this makes me koode wali

I am totally cool with it.

I stand with 1.2 million other koode Walis and I respect them with all my heart.


Dwarka Underpass – An Avoidable Water Logging Fiasco

Rain Water HarvestingDwarka Underpass has been in the news for the sheer visual shock of seeing 6m (20ft) high column of water on a road after a more than average rainfall in a single day.

Actually, the water was standing not just in the underpass but also on the road leading into the underpass from both sides. Approximately, 1.5 km stretch of road including the underpass had water logging. The water logging was so bad that, even today, 4 days after the downpour, and hectic efforts to pump out the water, the road is still blocked for traffic.

As per our calculations, the total volume of water that was standing in this entire area was between 10-12.5 crore (100 -125 Million) liters. If we take Delhi’s average rainfall, then over the year, this area alone would hold approx 40-50 crore (400-500 Million) liters of water!

To put this figure in perspective,

10 crore liters = 7,50,000 people’s requirement for one day or more than 2000 people’s total water requirement for one whole year!


1) Faulty drainage planning – An underpass is an artificial depression dug out from the ground. Drainage in an underpass is always a problem because it’s almost always impossible to align the slope of the underpass drainage with that of the main drain outside the underpass (whose level will be higher than the underpass). The problem becomes worse when the underpass is located at a site which is topographically also a naturally depressed zone. In such an area the tendency of water from all the surrounding catchment area is to flow towards that depression with no escape route in sight.

It is important therefore to ensure that the drainage for surrounding catchments is planned in such a way that all water gets diverted away from the underpass BEFORE it enters the depressed zone.

2) Poorly designed / constructed rainwater harvesting systems. As per court orders all flyovers are supposed to do rainwater harvesting. It does not seem like the Dwarka Underpass has done it. Even if it has,

a) The system is obviously insufficient because its recharge capacities have not been designed after taking into consideration the runoff generated by the entire CATCHMENT of the underpass area.

b) Poor intake of the system because of faulty design / construction.

c) The system is poorly maintained. Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) system needs regular cleaning to maximize its intake capacity. If this is not done, the system gets choked and becomes defunct. Its cleaning is especially necessary where the RWH system takes (water from road / open surfaces etc where the silt load is high.


1) Proper Drainage planning. The Problem can be corrected even now. However, planners will need to look beyond the underpass and plan for catching run-off from the catchment area for the underpass itself.

2) Rain water Harvesting – All along the 1.5 km stretch, maybe perhaps more (analysis of exact site conditions needs to be made) an extensive rainwater harvesting system needs to be made. This will ensure that the runoff gets recharged to groundwater and there is no surplus flow left to “water-log” the underpass.


The Dwarka Underpass is just a stark reminder of the urgent need to change policies to reflect urban water conditions:

1) WATER PLANNING SHOULD BE AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE DESIGNING WITH INTEGRATED EFFORT FROM ALL AGENCIES: Drainage and Water Harvesting planning to be done by agencies in co-ordination. When the underpass would have been constructed, PWD would have been given jurisdiction only over the immediate stretch of land over which the underpass is to be constructed. Hence, their designing and implementation would have to be a closed loop with minimal co-operation / interface with authorities managing that catchment area roads and drainage. So even if PWD wanted to plan an extensive drainage system, it would not have been able to do so. By the same logic, they might have been aware of / might have been advised by experts to do RWH for the entire catchment but since their intervention area was limited, they might not have been able to implement those suggestions.

2) RAINWATER HARVESTING SYSTEMS SHOULD BE MADE PART OF THE STORM WATER DRAINAGE SYSTEM. Currently, since RWH is seen as an ad-hoc activity, it is largely unplanned and adequate provisions for maintenance – BOTH OF STRUCTURES AND CATCHMENTS – are not made. RWH systems should be integrated with Storm Water Drainage systems. This will at least ensure that an annual schedule and provision for maintenance will be made by government. It should also be ensured that the catchment conduits for runoff and the RWH systems are maintained simultaneously. This will help ensure efficient working of the systems.

Unless we plan for these now, such fiasco will increasingly occur over time. And why not turn a fiasco into an opportunity – harvest water from all such areas!

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