Family of 14 make public toilet their home since seven years
Mysuru: If Akshay Kumar-starrer ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ won the hearts of people as the movie talks about sanitary issues in India where people still defecate in the open due to lack of toilet facilities, this story of a family of 14 living inside a public toilet amidst stinky surroundings and pitiable conditions will make you cringe with disgust.
The story comes from within Mysuru city that has bagged ‘Cleanest City’ tag twice under Swachh Bharat Mission and is vying to regain the recognition this year too and for which the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) is making tall claims of keeping the city clean and the residents happy.
The family has been living inside the public toilet at Rajendranagar-Kesare near the old Kurimandi.
The toilet, ironically built under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (Clean Bharat Initiative), is located near the Housing Complex built by the Karnataka Slum Board.
The Complex has been built under JnNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) for the homeless people who lived inside huts and shacks by the side of the road.
This family has divided the public toilet into three parts and do manual labour for a living. In the family, there are six men, four women, three children and an infant. Of the women, one is an old lady by name Krishnamma and another middle-aged woman and they both stay at home managing children.
Cook, eat and sleep
The public toilet has been partitioned and the family cooks, sleeps and spends time inside the crammed surroundings. The original bathroom has been converted into a living room, and the toilet section has been converted into a kitchen. “All the cooking, eating and sleeping takes place here and we are adjusting as it is our fate,” rues Krishnamma.
According to Krishnamma, they migrated to Mysuru from Tamil Nadu and after coming to the city, they put up a hut by the side of the road at Rajendranagar. After the Slum Board built the Housing Complex for the homeless and after the toilet was built, the family occupied the toilet to take protection from rains and wind.
The men and other women of the family do daily wage work like asphalting the road, pouring bitumen on the roads before road-roller levels it. They also work in choultries, cleaning the vessels and taking off the waste food from the tables.
There are no doors and windows for the toilet they live and they have covered the same with waste tarpaulins and coconut frond. There is an open drain near the toilet that permanently stinks and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The family lives in abject poverty and according to Krishnamma, road works are not permanent.
Leftovers from choultries
“We collect leftovers from choultries and Indira Canteens and eke out a living. Feeding the 14-member family three times a day is a daunting task. We have no other place to live and we have been living here since seven years. We don’t have voter ID cards nor Aadhaar Card and every day is a struggle,” Krishnamma, who is nearing ninety years, says.
Krishnamma reveals that when the Slum Board conducted a survey of street dwellers in Rajendranagar, they were assured of a house inside the complex. “But after the complex was built, we were denied a house and that is why we are living inside a toilet.
A house for the family soon
Area Corporator Pradeep Chandra was not available for his comments. When Star of Mysore spoke to Slum Board Executive Engineer Chennakeshavaiah, he said that the issue has come to the notice of Deputy Commissioner and he has directed the officers to allot a house to the family.
“The family neither has Aadhaar Card nor a Voter ID or a Ration Card and there is no document to prove that they have been living inside the toilet since seven years. We will examine the records and see how we can help the family on humanitarian grounds,” he said.
Reacting on the plight of the family, MCC Commissioner Gurudatta Hegde said that a house will be allotted to the family and the toilet will be open for public use. “Our officers are identifying a suitable place to accommodate the family and soon, the arrangement will be made,” he said.