By YKA Staff:
Ram is a 10-year-old boy who used to live in the scooter garage in a locality for government employees, which is located about a kilometre away from the Indian Parliament. His father is a watchman in the locality where he used to stay earlier. His father had been living there for the past 15 years. They had not been provided with any toilet facilities. There was a public toilet across the road, but it used to get shut by 9 pm. It was also risky for Ram to cross the road at night. In the most desperate of circumstances, Ram, his brother and sister used to relieve themselves in spaces within the locality.
Without any warning whatsoever, his family was thrown out of the locality and not given any alternative accommodation. This made his family shift to Nepal. He has come back now and is living elsewhere. He is also a meber of the campaign Nine is Mine, a children’s advocacy campaign for children.
At CONVERGE 2016, Ram shared his experience along with Kartik Lokhande, chief reporter for The Hitavada, central India’s oldest and largest selling English newspaper.
Lokhande, has been reporting for The Hitavada since 1999 and is based in Nagpur, Maharashtra. He has written extensively on urban planning, sanitation, hygiene and water scarcity.
He asked the audience whether everyone had relieved themselves in the morning today. He asked whether Swachh Bharat would only take place by cleaning the roads. He said, “After flushing the toilet, where does it go? We usually don’t think about it.”
It goes to a septic tank. But from there, where does it go? Ultimately, this all goes to rivers, lakes and other water bodies. He puts forward a pertinent question. “Isn’t it contaminating the water?” He talked about how high rise buildings result in even deeper septic tanks. When such tanks are built, there is also the risk of the groundwater getting contaminated. Contaminated water impacts the health of the kids the most.
In a lively session of 20 minutes both Ram and Kartik made a powerful statement on why concern regarding sanitation is the urgent need of the hour.
While showing us how great he is at juggling, Ram told us how he once met Tendulkar and told him, “We don’t want money, we just want full justice.”