13 Feb 2018 06:24am IST
Joao Barros Pereira
While the government deserves a lot of credit for aspiring to build seventy thousand toilets in households in Goa by October of this year, and will probably reach the target, we need to look beyond the magic number and also observe carefully how the workers of shacks on the beaches exhibit their bare backsides not too far from 5-star hotels.
The Chief Minister was shocked to hear about the lack of toilets in seventy thousand houses. He will be even more shocked to see the early morning scenario on some of the beaches in Goa. Believe me, it is not a pretty sight.
Making Goa open defecation free (ODF) is a laudable goal and the households who will benefit from the largesse of the government need to be most grateful to it. What is of serious concern are the shacks on the beaches in Goa which do not have toilet facilities for the workers who number in hundreds. These shack employees are a threat to the health of the tourists even though the shacks have received a green signal from the Food and Drug Department as well as Health. As some hotels on the beaches are now catering to the wedding business, the early morning baring of backsides on the beaches and bordering land are even more numerous because of the extended business. They have joined the shack employees in using the beaches and fields close to the beaches and the beaches have become one big, open air toilet in the morning. If your eyes let you down, don't worry, your nose certainly won't! As having to go to the toilet is a basic human function (even if there are no toilets!) these shack and hotel employees need to be protected, and their dignity not taken away.
No toilets and no health showers are a grave threat to the people who eat the food in the restaurants on the beaches and, they are often tourists from luxury hotels. I can only hope the cooks wash their hands thoroughly for the sake of the tourists if they touch the food with their bare hands. As for the Health Lab on wheels, as far as I know, it cannot navigate on our sandy beaches and so the government has to make other arrangements to monitor hygiene regularly, and buy at least a dozen more vans or the one and only van is going to be nothing more than a show window.
On any given day on some beaches, it is possible to see dozens of plastic bottles of water which are used to clean the backsides of the workers after they have finished what they came to do on the beaches.
They prefer to use plastic bottles which at one point in time had mineral water in them. No beer bottles or whisky bottles however expensive for them which shows, I believe, their wonderful sense of humour.
I hope the government also has a sense of humour and gets the joke. Otherwise, the final laugh might well be on the 5-star tourists who visit the shacks in Goa.