Written By: Rishi Baadshah – @rishibaadshah
I visited the Tikri border after an entire month. My main goal for this visit was to check the sanitation conditions at the protest site at the Tikri border. Beginning at Pakoda Chownk I started my visit, which was approximately 4 – 5 kilometers away from the main stage of SKM (Sanyukt Kissan Morcha). As the temperature continuously rises in India, farmers at protest sites have adapted to these rising temperatures by altering the interiors of their huts. Portable fans, dessert coolers, and other fan systems were brought by famers from their villages, creating a cooler atmosphere for themselves and their fellow protestors. In order to assess the sanitation conditions of the protest site, I interviewed numerous women protestors and farmers. One of the major problems our women protestors and farmers have been facings are a severe shortage of clean and proper toilets. I walked about 5 kilometers from Pakoda Chownk to the Punjab side. After every 100 meters, farmers have made an enclosures for toilet purposes. And although there are enclosures, the conditions of these enclosures and the so-called toilets are pathetic; there was no septic tank in these toilets, no proper water drainage system. In a simple word, these toilets were just enclosures to hide women farmers’ bodies during defecation.
As the temperature continues to rise, these enclosures are providing perfect conditions for the insects to grow and spread. Due to the abysmal sanitary conditions at the Tikri border, there is a high chance of the spreading of deadly diseases, such as malaria and dengue. One woman farmer perfectly illuminated this issue by explaining just how difficult it was to sit in these enclosures to defecate because of the swarm of insects residing in these toilets. In order to avoid using these toilets at any cost, she would go to open grounds for the defecation. But unfortunately, the open grounds were only available in the mornings, and she was forced to use the awful enclosures at night. Thus, NGOs, SKM, and other organizations should put the effort in this direction – the direction of providing proper sanitation for the farmers who are protesting. Regular fogging of insect-killing spray, distribution of Odomos, etc. can help diminish the spread of malaria and dengue.
One should not forget that sanitations issues are also human rights issues. Women farmers are not able to reach clean toilets – which is a shear violation of their rights.
However, despite all the problems and negative campaign by a section of the media, our farmers have still “Buland Honsle.”
The featured image illustrates the toilet conditions at the Tikri boarder.