A Dalit man in Raghudeipur village of Odisha’s Kendrapara district has been living in a toilet built under the Centre’s flagship programme, Swachh Bharat Mission, after Cyclone Fani razed his house to ground on May 3. Rendered homeless, Khirod Jena (58), a landless daily wage earner, has been living in the 7 feet x 6 feet Swachh Bharat toilet along with his wife and two daughters.
“The cyclone destroyed my house. But the pucca toilet was saved. I have nowhere to go. The toilet allotted to me two days ago has become by shelter. I do not know how long we will be staying here,” Jena said.
He added: “The cyclone has completely shattered by life. I have no resources to rebuild my house. Till officials grant me cyclone damage compensation, the toilet will continue to be my house. With the toilet occupied, we are forced to defecate in the open now.”
Jena said he had applied for housing grant under the government schemes (he wasn’t sure it was the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana or the state’s Biju Pucca Ghar scheme) but had been unsuccessful in getting it.
“The cyclone would have spared my house if my kutcha house had taken the shape of a pucca dwelling unit with government assistance. But that was not to be,” he rued.
Government officials, meanwhile, said his case would be looked into.
“It has been brought to our notice that a family has been living in a toilet in Derabish block after cyclone ravaged their house. The cyclone damage grants besides separate housing grants are being awarded to the family expeditiously,” said Project Director, District Rural Development Agency, D K Parida.