The open defecation free (ODF) tag of her village in Durg seems to mock Neera every day as she drags herself–by one hand–to the fields and bushes, while the other hand holds up a lota on her head.Neera is 90% disabled, and can move around only on her hands. Residents are accustomed to seeing her crawling along the dirty lanes of the village. She often slips in the muck. Then, she has to crawl back to fill up her `lota’.

Her father was asked by the administration to dig holes to be used as septic tank for a toilet. He did so, but no one turned up to help him build the loo. Fearing that someone would have an accident due to the hole, he covered them up. Neera’s torment makes Chhattisgarh‘s boast of its ODF achievements ring hollow. Purai gram panchayat in Durg was declared ODF long ago, but there are still homes without toilets. “It’s very hard for me to go through this torture every day . The days it rains, it gets worse. I slip now and then and every time. The lota falls off my head, and I have to go back to refill it. Moreover, the lanes of our village are strewn with filth. I have to crawl through them sometimes when going around isn’t possible,“ Neera said. “It’s like passing through hell,“ says the girl who isn’t even sure of her age.“Twenties?“ she offers.

Though there are a few public toilets in the neighbourhood, they are either locked or don’t have water supply or too filthy to be used, she said.

Zilla panchayat CEO R K Khunte promised to help her. “I came to know about Neera through the media. I have sent officials to inspect the village and ordered one key of the public toilet to be given to the family for personal use. The family was living on encroached land, where the administration can’t provide them toilets. We will initiate the process to relocate them,“ he said.

 http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/index.aspx?eid=31804&dt=20171104

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