Odisha: Families With No Bathroom Defecate In Open, Panchayat Stops Ration Supply To Them
A panchayat in Sanakhemundi block of Odisha’s Ganjam District recently blocked 20 families from receiving ration in lieu of curbing open defecation.
The Goutami Panchayat in the district took the decision to stop the monthly ration under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and State Food Security Act (SFSA) distributed using Public Distribution System (PDS) to 20 families in the past 11 days, sarpanch Sushant Swain said.
However, Ganjam district collector Vijay Amruta Kunage said, the benefits under the NFSA and SFSA to any person should not be curtailed. “We will discuss the matter with the block office and ensure that all beneficiaries get ration,” he said.
On the contrary, the Sarpanch said if anyone was found defecating in the open, particularly on the roadside, the Panchayat will instruct the respective dealer to stop giving ration to such people for a month. He claimed the move is aimed to at creating awareness against open defecation and healthier lifestyle reported The Hindu.
Goutami panchayat has around 2,000 households with a population of 4,563. Of these 180 families do not have toilets in their houses and defecate in the open. According to Swain around 300 women, all members of a self-help group (SHG), patrol the public spaces in the panchayat from 3 am to 5 am and 5 pm to 7 pm to keep a vigil on the violators in a voluntary exercise.
The move has created uproar as the NFSA and SFSA schemes are meant to eradicate hunger and fall under article 21 right to life which subsumes the right to food. Peasant leader Bhala Chandra Sarangi said, “Right to Food is the constitutional right of a person, a panchayat cant deny this right to people. There are other methods to create awareness among people to stop open defecation.”
The decision has come after India was declared ODF on 2nd October on Gandhi Jayanti.