Nearly 60 per cent of people camping at various border points of Delhi in protests against the three farm laws of the Centre have been resorting to open defecation due to lack of adequate number of mobile toilets, reveals a survey done by Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.
The rapid assessment survey, conducted between December 19 and 22, was done with a sample size of 201 people at the five major protest sites — Singhu (92), Tikri (70), Shahjahanpur (23), Gazipur (12) and Palwal (4).
The report highlights how issues such as insufficient lighting, solid waste disposal, water stagnation and shortage of warm clothes have emerged as the primary concerns for the tens and thousands of protestors camping at border points since November 26.
It claimed that “only one in ten” was using the facilities of mobile toilets arranged by various local and state governments.
“Lack of proper sanitation is one of the major concerns at protest sites. As a result, protesters are compelled to resort to open defecation — 57.5 per cent, almost three in every five respondents have to rely on open sites for defecation,” read the survey.
“Only 10.5 per cent respondents said these toilets (mobile) are clean with proper water supply. Almost seven out of every ten (69.2 per cent) respondents observed said the mobile toilets are not cleaned regularly,” it added.
According to the survey, half of the respondents said water was not available, 48 per cent said there is always a long queue before them and 47 per cent said they are located in far-off places, creating difficulties in accessing those.
“Among the various protest sites, it is only in Ghazipur that mobile toilets could be used better (41.7 per cent),” it noted.
On the management of solid waste disposal, the reports said it has been the volunteers, and not civic bodies’ workers, who are doing the majority of “garbage collection” at various in the various border points.
“Only 11.8 per cent of respondents said sanitation workers are cleaning roads and protest sites while only 7.3 per cent said civic bodies are arranging vehicles to dispose waste,” it said.
It added that largely volunteers are collecting garbage.
Around 11 per cent of survey respondents among protesters said they had to sleep in the open at night, an overwhelming majority of the protesters (78 per cent) said they did not have adequate clothes and blankets to beat the cold.
“Though younger protesters reported it more frequently, around 73 per cent of those aged 65 or above and around 76 per cent of those between 50 to 64 years have experienced that they do not have adequate protection against cold,” it added.
JSA, which claims to be a national-level movement on health and healthcare, consists of 21 national networks and over 150 organisations and state-level platforms.