Pune, March 17: After life without a toilet, death for not using a bad one.
A 45-year-old barber relieving himself in public died yesterday of a heart attack trying to escape from a squad enforcing a central drive to eradicate open defecation, police said.
Sunil Jadhav, who tried to flee alarmed by the prospect of a fine that could go up to Rs 1,200, was declared dead by a village doctor near Punes Baramati in Maharashtra, a state that has won laurels for its progress in rural sanitation.
Jadhavs village, Supe Road, has public toilets that residents said couldnt be used because they had no water in summer.
According to the police, other villagers relieving themselves around the spot were caught by the team of panchayat officials, aptly called the Good Morning Squad.
But Jadhav, who thought he could get away when chased, couldnt complete the run. He began gasping for breath and collapsed on the way. The squad officials rushed him to a local doctor but he died after suffering a cardiac arrest, an official of the Wadgaon-Nimbalkar police station, near the village, told The Telegraph.
His death sparked protests by villagers, who refused to claim the body initially and relented only after the local tehsildar promised financial help to the family in writing.
The squad is part of the Nirmal Gram Abhiyan, a sanitation drive to eradicate open defecation by 2010. The plan is implemented through the rural development, water supply and sanitation departments of states.
Spot fines imposed by the squad on offenders range from Rs 500 to Rs 1,200, the police said.
Another scheme, Nirmal Gram Puraskar, promotes rural sanitation by offering cash incentives of Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh — depending on the population — to local bodies that show good progress in rooting out the practice.
According to the Maharashtra water supply and sanitation department, a third of the villages selected by the Centre for the Nirmal Puraskars in 2005 were from the state. In 2006, over 350 gram panchayats got the awards.