In India’s northern Uttar Pradesh region, the government is reportedly turning off power lines for villages where residents continue to defecate in the street.

Read More: Can Community-Led Total Sanitation End Open Defecation in India?

The administrative body of Uttar Pradesh has also threatened to withhold ration cards, pensions, and other subsidies from villages who fail to build and use toilets in their communities, according to the Indian media outlet Times Now.

This move comes after a large campaign by India’s government to focus on issues of sanitation, including a nationwide push to end the practice of open defecation. Currently, the World Bank estimates that in rural villages, three out of five people defecate in the open.

The build up in human waste can lead to outbreaks of life threatening diseases spread by parasites and bacteria, as well as infect sources of drinking water.

Sanitation is a leading concern for residents and government officials in India.

Before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2014 “Clean India Campaign” took off, the BBC reported that approximately 48% of Indian lacked access to proper sanitation.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 10 deaths in India is related to issues of poor sanitation, according to a video released by the World Bank.

In the state of Uttar Pradesh, officials are hoping these devastating numbers can be cut down by using electricity as leverage to install toilets.

Some believe that this measure is unnecessarily harsh, and ultimately not useful in places that lack the existing sanitation infrastructure to easily install toilets in homes.

“Withholding electricity will only make life in Uttar Pradesh villages harder,” Ankita Rao wrote in Motherboard. “Cutting those people off from the (already tenuous) electricity that powers their phones, sewing machines, lamps, and fans will directly impact their livelihoods and health, especially in the scorching September heat.”

Read More: This Jarring Tactic Is Helping End Open Defecation in India

The “Clean India Campaign,” which has been backed by the World Bank since 2016, hopes to provide access to clean toilets for all Indians and end open defecation by 2019.

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, and access to clean water and sanitation is number 6. You can take action on this issue here.


Defeat Poverty

Officials in India are Cracking Down on Open Defecation

By Andrew McMaster