Even as the two border villages of Gahmar in Uttar Pradesh and Salempur in Bihar are separated by 80 km a lot is different between them. While Gahmar carries a tag of being among India’s largest villagers with 25,994 people, Salempur is a dusty village with only 543 residents. Another thing that separates these two villages along the Ganga is the fact that, while one can find concrete houses in Gahmar, Salempur mostly has mostly mud homes, Indian Express said.The government last month had declared that all 4,480 villages in 52 districts on the banks of the Ganga in states like Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal were now Open Defecation Free under the Namami Gange project.
“In the last year-and-a-half alone, we have got 1,802 toilets constructed here. The demand for another 600 has already been raised of which 400 are requests for more toilets by families who have already got one each,” Durga Chaurasiya, speaking on behalf of his wife and Gahmar pradhan, Meera Chaurasiya, told the paper.
With Swachh Bharat Abhiyan completing three years on October 2, locals also want to be known for the number of toilets that have been built in the village. “The people here are aware and themselves approached me for help to build more toilets when they heard about the government scheme,” Chaurasiya was quoted as saying further.
Salempur is situated about three hours drive from Gahmar village. Where only a few people have toilets in their homes. However, some families like that of Ram Sevak are still forced to defecate in the fields near their house. “Our toilet has no door or a roof. But then, many people in my neighbourhood have no space to get a toilet constructed so they have been left out,” Ram Sevak’s wife Rita tells Indian Express.
While admitting gaps on the part of the government, Manish Yadav, pradhan of Ijri panchayat of which Salempur is a part, told Indian Express, “The whole area has been declared open defecation free. But what can I do if people don’t have land to build toilets? In most houses, only the toilet seats and doors remain to be installed. Work will be completed as soon as I get money from the authorities.”