The fear of a tiger straying into the villages of Mahoba and Hamirpur in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has done what government policies could not. In just two days, the two villages have become open defecation free.
"Almost all the houses in these districts have toilets and Mahoba was even declared ODF some months ago. However, people still preferred to defecate in the open and no amount of convincing would make them stop the practice. We are happy that the tiger scare has made them use toilets", an official told the media.
As per reports, a tiger was sighted in a village near the border of the two districts. Forest officials searched for the big cat, but it couldn’t be found. Since then, the vilagers have been apprehensive.
People have given up defecating in the open and even children were not allowed to step out of the house to answer nature’s call.
Another official added: “What the entire administration could not achieve, a tiger has achieved in two days".
India’s Federal Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation told Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament last week that 163.4 million households in the country have access to toilets, through a massive campaign launched by the federal government in partnership with provincial governments.
The mission to make India ODF comprised building of toilets to dissuade people from defecating in the open, make them aware of the benefits of using toilets, and cleanliness. The government provided subsidies to those opting to construct toilets in their houses.
Contrary to the federal minister’s admission, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared rural India "Open Defecation Free on 2 October 2019, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.