Sujatha sits outside the toilet while her children sleep inside | By special arrangement
Sujatha sits outside the toilet while her children sleep inside | By special arrangement
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Hyderabad: A family of four, including two children, has been living inside a small local government-built toilet in Telangana’s Mahabubnagar district for the past two years, with nowhere else to go.

The family — comprising 30-year-old daily wage labourer Sujatha, her mother-in-law and her two children — has had to place a slab to cover the Indian-style commode in the toilet, and put a gas stove over it to cook.

Sujatha lifts the slab to show the Indian-style commode under her gas stove | By special arrangement
Sujatha lifts the slab to show the Indian-style commode under her gas stove | By special arrangement

Sujatha and her family members live in a hamlet in Balanagar Mandal, Thirumalagiri area, where a majority of the population are from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This family is from the SC community.

Sujatha’s husband died almost seven years ago, and then, three-and-a-half-years ago, the family’s house collapsed due to rainfall. They moved to a local community hall and stayed there for some time before they were asked to vacate. They then found the toilet as a last resort.

“My mother-in-law and I sleep outside and the kids sleep inside. On days when it rains, I do not sleep. I make the kids sleep inside and I sit under the roof. Where is the double bed room house that the chief minister promised?” Sujatha said.

She was referring to Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao’s promise before the 2014 assembly elections, the first since the state was carved out of Andhra Pradesh, to give 2.8 lakh two-bedroom houses without charge to the economically weaker sections of society. The promise largely remains unfulfilled, and KCR and his Telangana Rashtra Samithi have been repeatedly criticised for it.

After much outrage over the issue and some local media reports, the sarpanch, Kesili, decided to build a house for Sujatha’s family at the same place, next to the toilet. The foundation stone laying ceremony was also conducted last Thursday. The family, however, is still staying in the toilet, she said.

Sarpanch Kesili conducted a bhoomi pujan last Thursday at the spot where the panchayat is set to build a house for Sujatha | By special arrangement
Sarpanch Kesili conducted a bhoomi pujan last Thursday at the spot where the panchayat is set to build a house for Sujatha | By special arrangement

“It is not true that she was sent away from the community hall. She herself left and wanted to stay separately. The hall did not have doors or windows, but it was still much better than the toilet,” Kesili told ThePrint.

“The Panchayat has decided to construct a house for her and will do it as soon as possible. We thought about it earlier too, but the issue got delayed due to the pandemic,” she said.


Also read: Why Telangana is seeing an increase in violent clashes between tribals & forest officials


Villagers claim leaders didn’t respond to appeals

Villagers alleged that the plight of Sujatha’s family has been pointed out to local political leaders, but there had been no response.

“We helped them during the pandemic, got them groceries, but there has been no help from the Panchayat or the MLA or anyone. We raised the issue with the local MLA, sarpanch, collector and other leaders, but nobody responded till now,” claimed Mohan Naik.

“Their situation is pathetic and we feel bad seeing them in that situation. In this monsoon season, a snake crawled into their house, apparently,” he added.

However, sarpanch Kesili said Sujatha was repeatedly asked to move to the community hall but she refused. The family was also paid compensation at the time their house collapsed, she added.

She also alleged that the family was not as destitute as it seemed. “Her mother-in-law and she both get pensions. She does not go to work; instead she consumes alcohol,” she claimed.

Mahabubnagar MLA and Telangana minister V. Srinivas Goud tweeted an update on the issue of Sujatha’s house Tuesday.

“Update on Sujatha House: Mahabubnagar District Administration has timely issued compensation last year to the family. Local Sarpanch & Tah visited them and arranged Rs 1 Lakh and also made Bhoomi Puja for house construction,” he said.

District Collector Venkata Rao also said the family was offered compensation but they did not get their house repaired.

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)


Also read: At least 1.2L died in Telangana in 2020, RTI reply finds. That’s double the average from 2016-19


 

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