Berhampur: Over 20 families in Ganjam district have not been given ration supply after a panchayat body decided to stop the benefits from reaching people who were found defecating in open.
According to a decision taken at a panchayat meeting October 20, the distribution of ration under the public distribution system (PDS) was stopped to over 20 families in last 11 days, Sushant Swain, the sarpanch of Goutami panchayat in Sanakhemundi block, said.
However, Ganjam district collector Vijay Amruta Kunage said, the benefits under National Food Security Act (NFSA) and State Food Security Act (SFSA) to any person should not be curtailed.
If anyone was found defecating in open, particularly on roadside, the panchayat body will instruct the dealer concerned to stop giving ration to such people for a month, Swain said.
The move is aimed at making people aware of the need to use toilets, he said.
Around 300 women, all members of a self-help group (SHG), patrol the open spaces in the panchayat between 3:00am to 5:00am and between 5:00pm to 7:00pm to keep vigil on the violators, the sarpanch said.
“If they find anyone defecating in the open, they inform the panchayat. The women do the work voluntarily,” he said.
Initially several villagers had opposed the decision of the panchayat but the number of people defecating in the open was now gradually reducing, he claimed.
Those who do not have toilets in their houses have been asked to build toilets in the next two months under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), Swain said.
Goutami panchayat has around 2,000 households with a population of 4,563. Of these, 180 families do not have toilets in their houses at present, the sarpanch said.
However, some of them have initiated steps for construction of toilets, he said.
“We will discuss the matter with the block office and ensure that all beneficiaries get ration,” said the collector.
Peasant leader Bhala Chandra Sarangi said, “Right to Food is the constitutional right of a person, a panchayat can’t deny this right to people.”
“There are other methods to create awareness among the people to stop open defecation.” India was declared open defecation-free October 2.