Gazipur village from Bihar’s Nawada district is modern in many respects, with geysers, air-conditioners and cars but has no toilets.
While villagers admire Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Mission, they prefer to defecate in the open.
Shyam Sundar Singh, a villager, said, “In this village, all have accepted it as their fate. I am not sure but the concerted effort by the government may yield results. Money is not the problem. You see, almost all have pucca houses here. Mindsets need to change.”
The villagers are against toilets in the village because of a superstition linked to events that took place three decades ago. Shivdani Prasad Verma, a villager, said, “In 1988, Sidheshwar Singh decided to build a toilet. Construction started but had to stop as his young son died. It was an unnatural death.
A few months later, Shyamdev Singh started building a toilet but his son also died. This left a deep-rooted conviction that building a toilet will result in the loss of dear ones. After that, no one even thought of constructing a toilet.”
A government school has the toilet as it was made by the officials. But villagers have made sure no one uses the facility.
Women in the village face a lot of difficulty due to lack of toilets. “Panchayat has demarcated areas for men and women but it is hard for us. We have to leave our homes well before sunrise. But women keep silent. Who will take the risk? Outsiders say this is a superstition but who will alleviate the fear,” Suman, an elderly villager, said.
As a result, men of the village find it difficult to get a bride. Another villager, Shyadev, said, “Those who have migrated are less affected. People know they will be living in Patna or Delhi or somewhere else. But youths living here face this problem.”