Around 35 per cent of the total existing houses in the ST-dominated village of Rachol do not have toilet facilities and this is primarily because of lack of space and lack of goodwill between the landlords and tenants. There is also no scope for construction of more community toilets and, hence, the goal of the government to make Goa open defecation free (ODF) by December this year is a big challenge.
A recent survey conducted by District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) points out that the village of Rachol has in all 480 houses of which 154 households do not have the toilet facility. The areas of Ilha de Rachol and Rachol form the whole of village.
“It will not be possible to provide toilets to the households that do not have such a facility by end of the year in the panchayat area. For provision of as many as 130 toilets there is no space available in the area of Ilha de Rachol,” stated former sarpanch and current panch Joseph Vaz, who is also the leader of ST community.
He said in order to build the toilets the government will have to either acquire land from landlords or provide bio-toilets as there is hardly any scope for setting up of more community toilets.
Rachol was selected by late MP Shantaram Naik for development under the Sansad Adharsh Gram Yojana (SAGY), a rural development programme, and few community toilets have been built, but they are not adequate. The villagers’ demand for more toilets has not received much attention. “The development of the village should have been a priority for the government. There should have been more toilets built as the majority of the population is ST,” said a villager, Santano Tavares. He said that there is open defecation happening in the areas of Ilha de Rachol areas, including the bandh stretch, as many houses have no toilets.
Rachol village has nearly 80 to 85 per cent ST population. A visit confirmed that many residents of Ilha de Rachol lack proper toilet facilities. As per tribal association, nearly 50 per cent of the ST people in Goa do not have toilet facility.