Cuddalore: Sanitation and health issues are increasingly becoming a concern in the district as houses lack bathrooms and unawareness breads diseases.
Women in several villages do not use sanitary napkins, rather cloths that are reused after being washed. Such lack of awareness is accompanied by a social stigma that has made this unhygienic practise rampant all across. “We use cloths instead of napkins because they are difficult to dispose of whereas cloths are burned after use. Also, such things should not be seen lying around anywhere.” Said Lakshmi R (45) living in Onankuppam Village. Such ignorance affects their health and as there is no hospital nearby, it adds to their woes.
Onankuppam Village houses 500 people and only one house has a bathroom. Women huddle in groups and go to the nearby fields whereas children relieve themselves near the drains. When asked, the villagers said that they were comfortable with defecating in the open; they have been doing it since their infancy. But the recent floods have changed a few mindsets, “During the floods, we couldn’t go out to the fields, therefore we defecated out in the streets, filled with water” said some. This has helped them realise the importance of an inbuilt bathroom.
On the other hand, a The Hindu correspondent added, “They have all been allotted funds between Rs.12000-15,000 to make toilets, but the people use it for other means.”
Similarly, Keeliruppam village has one common bathroom for a population of around 650, built by the government that lays vacant as the flush doesn’t work. Out of 350 households, only 30 MBCs (Maha Backward Class) have bathrooms, even those lay unused, “We prefer going to the fields in the morning” Said P. Saraswati (25) Bsc zoology graduate.
Also, villagers and ward members allege that the Panchayat head has laundered the government sanctioned money for the building the bathrooms. The 30 households with bathrooms are still waiting for their due Rs.12,000.
On the health front in Keeliruppam, a nurse visits the village twice to nurse pregnant women and a doctor comes once a month. But children often fall ill to Malaria, Typhoid and fever due to their ignorance regarding clean surroundings.
Whereas, villagers in Onankuppam complain of lack of proper health facilities in the hospital that is 12Km from their village.
To this the District Collector, Dr.Suresh Kumar said, “All hospitals are equipped with modern machines and has ample staff to cater to the population.”
In Kachirayantham village, almost all the houses have toilets but not bathrooms. They bathe in the open. “We don’t feel the need for it as we huddle in groups and bathe between the cover made by sarees” Said Mangailakshmi (33).
Pavaikullam on the other hand, faces acute shortage of water that has compelled the villagers to travel to other villages. There are hardly any bathrooms in the houses there and those that do, the flushes don’t work. Despite such problems, they do not complain. “We have become accustomed with defecating in the open, only water remains the problem” said Rukmini (55).