The sub-divisional magistrate of a Rajasthan district has devised a plan to make people build toilets in their homes. According to a report on Bengali daily Sangbad Pratidin, Kartar Singh had issued a directive to residents of Gangithala village in Bhilwada district that if they don't build toilets in their homes within 15 days of receiving the notice, their electricity supply will be cut. Apart from that, if any family applies for a new electricity connection they'll have to furnish proof that they have a toilet in their house.
The article states that this idea came to Singh after he caught some villagers defecating in the open on 18 August when he was out to raise awareness about building toilets in homes. After being caught, the villagers allegedly refused to build and use toilets in future. Furious, Singh ordered their arrest. They were left on a Rs 10,000 bail bond each and on the condition that they build toilets within 15 days.
This is when Singh decided to make it mandatory for houses to have toilets. Sangbad Pratidin quotes Singh as saying, "Only 19% of the households have toilets and they are not building them. Hence I made an arrangement with the power department."
However, this plan is least likely to be followed through. The district collector has told the paper that the 'punishment' seems a little harsh and they will explain the necessity of toilets to villagers instead of snapping power.
While various factors -- including poverty -- contribute to villagers in India not building toilets in their homes, some government officials have been reported to have come down hard on people who defecate in the open. In June this year a man in Rajasthan was allegedly lynched by civic body officials following an argument over open defecation. Zaffar Hussein opposed civic body officials who were photographing women defecating in the open in Pratapgarh to shame them into using toilets. The argument escalated and witnesses say that civic body officials rained blows on Hussein who died on the spot.
In July, a district magistrate in Bihar flew into a rage when a man asked for an advance payment build a toilet in his home. He asked the villager to sell off his wife if he can't build a toilet for her. It was later revealed that the man was a widower whose wife had died 20 years back due to lack of medical facilities in the village.