Monday, 30th October 2017

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No-toilet home, gory end for girl

Fatal flaw in 'ODF' district Koderma

  • Published 9.01.18
FILTHY TRUTH: Twelve-year-old Madhu Kumari's house in Bhagwatidih in Koderma. Telegraph picture

Ranchi: A 12-year-old girl who went out to relieve herself was mauled to death by stray dogs on Sunday at a village in Koderma, ironically Jharkhand's first district to be declared open-defecation free.

A resident of Bhagwatidih village in Markachcho block, 200km from Ranchi, electrician's daughter Madhu Kumari was affluent by rural standards and hence ineligible for state dole for a toilet under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, but her pucca house did not have a toilet.

Claimed by Markachcho BDO to be "mentally impaired and unable to walk properly", Madhu was defecating with some four or five other children, 500 metres from her house, when she was attacked by a pack of dogs around 8.30am. As other children ran away, Madhu could not. Around 10am, villagers found her dead.

The tragedy has proved both tricky and embarrassing for Koderma, which after building 68,400 personal and public toilets, was declared ODF on September 22, 2017, the first in Jharkhand.

Koderma deputy commissioner stressed Madhu's family did not figure on the BPL list of toilet beneficiaries. "She had a pucca house so her family's name did not figure in our baseline. Now we learn their home did not have a toilet," DC Sanjiv Kumar Besra said.

Markachcho BDO Gyan Mani Ekka said the family could afford a toilet. "Madhu's father Umesh Singh is an electrician in Surat. Her grandfather worked in Bokaro Steel Plant employee where her grandmother got a compensatory job after her husband died. She gets pension. They have houses in Bokaro and Markachcho," he said.

Ekka added that normally, Madhu's mother did not allow her out on her own. It is unclear how the girl, who did not even go to school, found her self in a place populated by stray dogs where people normally threw carcasses and trash.

District public health and engineering executive engineer Vinod Kumar said home and public toilets were built or aided for poor families on the recommendation of village sanitation committees (Gram Jal Swachchhata Samiti) and under welfare schemes such as MGNREGS. "We rejected a list of over 4,000 proposed beneficiary families when verifications revealed they had toilets at home or had money to build them. Madhu's family did not figure on that list too," he stressed.

The BDO clarified that under norms, the government couldn't build her non-BPL family a personal toilet. "But, we are working on building community toilets in Bhagwatidih," he said.

Chief minister Raghubar Das condoled the death and directed Koderma DC to give the victim's family Rs 1 lakh as compensation.