Patna, May 13 :
Alakh Niranjan’s marriage was headed for the rocks till an NGO stepped in to provide what his wife wanted – a toilet. Not only that, Sulabh International also rewarded the wife Rs.100,000 for demanding proper sanitation facilities even at the cost of her marriage.
“I am the happiest person now as my wife will no more demand divorce for lack of a toilet,” Niranjan, a resident of Sadeshopur village near Bihta town in Patna district, told IANS after Sulabh International stepped in to build a modern toilet in their home.
“At last someone came forward to help me to save my marriage. My wife is also happy over this development,” Niranjan, who hawks newspapers for a living, added.
Last month Niranjan’s wife approached the women’s helpline in Patna seeking help for a divorce after her husband failed to construct a toilet despite repeated assurances.
Sulabh International founder Bindeshwari Pathak, who hails from Bihar, said: “We will not allow her to take divorce for the absence of a toilet. We will construct a toilet soon for her.”
The wife would also be rewarded for serving as an example for others in rural India to demand toilet and, if required, even revolt for this.
Alakh admitted that his wife was upset over being forced to make her way to an open field every day under the cover of darkness to defecate.
Women’s helpline counsellor Sarita Sajal said Alakh’s wife was not ready to live with him due to absence of a toilet. “This case was a peculiar one,” she said.
The woman had told the helpline that Niranjan has been beating her for demanding the construction of toilet, Sajal added.
“Since 2009, my husband has been assuring me to construct the toilet but it is yet to be built. Whenever I insisted for it, he thrashed me. Now I have decided not to live with him,” Niranjan’s wife said.
Niranjan cited the lack of finance. “I failed to build the toilet due to financial problems but will do it now to save our marriage,” Niranjan had said.
Sajal said the couple had been summoned in end-May to resolve the dispute – but this won’t now be necessary.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced last November that his government was committed to providing toilets to all. He said open defecation was an affront to human dignity and the government will ensure that this problem is addressed soon.
Bihar has a population of over 105 million, of whom 21.9 million lack toilet facilities. The central government had planned to construct 11.1 million toilets in the state in 2013 but this is yet to fructify.