Punjab Teachers Protest Orders to Keep Eye on Open Defecation

Teachers in Punjab say the order is a disrecpect to their profession.

Chandigarh: Teachers in Punjab are up in arms against a government notice asking them to keep an eye on people defecating in the open.

According to guidelines issued by the sub-divisional magistrate's office of Malerkotla in Sangrur district, teachers have been appointed as nodal officers to work for the Centre's cleanliness drive. As part of the campaign, the Punjab government is aiming to make the state free of open defecation by October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary.

According to the district official's order, government teachers in Punjab will have to check the number of people defecating in the open and educate them about its ill effects. They have also been asked to submit a report on families who do not have toilets at home.

"But this is not compulsory. Those who don't want to be part of it can get their names removed," said Amit Bambi, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Malerkotla.

Similar orders have been issued by the Hoshiarpur district administration, asking teachers to follow instructions of officers from the water supply and sanitation department.

"This is a disrespect to our profession. We are teachers. If we do such jobs, then even our students will not respect us," said Surjit Singh said, leader of the Punjab Teacher's Union.

The state government tried to play down the order.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said, "No such orders have been issued. We will ensure toilets in every village of Punjab to make it clean. I am personally monitoring progress."

The state government has set a target of constructing 6.25 lakh toilets to prevent open defecation, he said.

Punjab Primary Education Minister Daljit Cheema clarified that the orders were issued without consulting the government. The education department is going to write to the concerned Deputy Commissioners to withdraw the order, he said.