According to the Union Ministry over 9 crore toilets have been built under the Swachh Bharat Mission. Yet a recent incident of the death of a 23-yr old government official points fingers in the eyes of the government about the worrying state of some public offices that are missing necessary elements – a bathroom for example.

Swachh Bharat Mission has been a drive to build toilets across India: source

In 2019, 23-year-old Saranya Shanmugan cleared the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission exams and joined as a warehouse manager at an agricultural depot in Kancheepuram district. However, a few days into her job, she wanted to quit. The reason being – the woman’s office did not have a toilet and as a result, Saranya and her two other female colleagues used to go to buildings and houses to relieve themselves.

Usually, women from Saranya’s office used to request people living in the area to let them use their washrooms. However, on Saturday, Saranya decided to relieve herself at an under-construction building as it was raining. When Saranya went to the area to relieve herself, she slipped into an open septic tank and breathed her last a few hours later.

Representative image of an open septic tank: source

Saranya’s father told The Quint, “The construction was not complete and a tin sheet was used to cover the septic tank. She must have removed it to squat and slipped and fell down. When she did not return for almost an hour, her colleagues got worried and went in search of her.

The grieving father said that her colleagues saw her footwear inside the tank and rescued her. She was rushed to the hospital but was declared brought dead.

This incident has exposed the reality of the government office where proper arrangement for urination was not made by the authorities. Excuses cannot be made that the toilet was out of work recently – as Saranya and her female colleagues had to urinate in other houses for over a year. Sanitation facility is one the most basic facilities that can be provided and one that is absolutely necessary, yet the laid back mentality of the administration shows that campaigns about sanitization have largely stayed limited to gimmicks.

 

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