sulabh swatchh bharat

Monday, 17-December-2018

TOILETS AT THE CENTERSTAGE

Toilets were once seen as nondescript structures. Recently, they have captured nation’s imagination and have become talk of the town

  you must have seen Vidya Balan and Amitabh Bachchan campaigning for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Both the stars are focusing primarily on toilets in every house. It’s very important to have toilet at home but can you believe toilet can be responsible for disqualification of an electoral candidate? Or can it suspend someone from his or her job? Can toilet be a deal breaker in marriages? Or can be a reason for felicitation by Prime Minister? Believe it or not all the above examples are true. India is witnessing all such incidents recently. Toilets have become the talk of the town and it has captured the fancy of the whole nation.

In recent past, nomination of a panchayat by-polls candidate was rejected just for the reason that he didn’t have a toilet at his home. According to Madhya Pradesh Panchayat Raj Evam Gram Swaraj (Amendment) Rule, 2016, it is mandatory to have a toilet with running water in the residential premises; otherwise the person is not eligible to contest the panchayat elections. Santosh Pandram of Rampurmal village in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh was the first one in the country to face the brunt of state’s new Panchayat Raj amendment, 2016. A similar decree was issued by the Chief Secretary of Jharkhand government. As per the regulation, all such state government employees who don’t have a toilet at their home by January 10th, 2017 would be suspended.  

One more interesting incident from Madhya Pradesh came into light last year. Suraj Singh Gurjar, a resident of Siroh Madhya Pradesh was denied to take the marriage procession by helicopter in April, 2016 because he did not have a toilet in his house. The state administration gave him tough time and their clear message was ‘first make a toilet in your house then bring the bride by helicopter.’ Recently, lots of girls have denied to get married in families  where they don’t have a toilet. Neha from Lucknow has set example by turning down her marriage proposal where there was no toilet at in-law’s house. This is not all; there is a provision of penalty for open defecation in several places in the country, including Madhya Pradesh. Lots of households have been denied government aid if they don’t have toilet in their houses.

Kunwar Bai, a 104 years old woman from a small village in Chhattisgarh became a living testimony of the proverb – ‘Where there is a will there is a way’. She sold all her goats, her only source of income, to build toilet in her house. Prime Minister Modi got so much impressed by her initiative that he not only felicitated her but also touched her feet. Now, Kunwar Bai has become a synonym for hygiene and cleanliness.

There is news coming in related to toilet building every day from several parts of the country. Toilets, which were never talked of much, have become the center of discussion and appraisal now. Building toilet has become an important agenda not only for government and administration but also for the masses. One can recognise the importance of toilet and sanitation as PM Modi has prioritised toilet before worship and said ‘First toilet then temple’ in one of his addresses. The awareness towards the importance of toilet has spread due to the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’.

2.5 Crore Toilets

On Independence Day from the ramparts of Lal Qila, the Prime Minister remembered Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of ‘Clean India’. Here he tried to encourage all of us for realizing the dream of ‘Rashtra Pita’. He initiated Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on 2nd October 2014. His idea is to achieve the mission of cleanliness by 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma. He laid emphasis not only to clean the surroundings but also to construct toilets which is a prerequisite for sanitation and hygiene. There is a plan to build around 120 million toilets by 2019 across the country. This will be done under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in order to become completely open defecation free country. The total plan outlay is worth Rs 1.96 lakh crores. It has shown its impact positively due to the political will to prioritise the need of building toilets. Consequently, more than 2.5 crore toilets in rural and 25 lakh toilets in urban areas have been constructed within the span of two years. Whereas more than 1 lakh villages and around 400 cities are open defecation free today.              

Work in MEGA Speed

There is no doubt that prior to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, there were several schemes pertaining to this area. Many people had already built toilets in their households. This is equally true that the work had never been done at this speed ever before. There were only 32.70 percent families in rural areas who had toilets in their houses. The previous government in year 2005 and 2012 initiated programs like ‘Nirmal Gram Puraskar’ and ‘Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan’ respectively for building toilets. It was sad that the output of those programs was negligible.  

According to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in the year 2012-13, 46,72,235 toilets were built, whereas during the year 2013-2014, 50,36,308 toilets were built. Whereas till October 31st, 2014, 13,82,420 toilets were built. It means total 1,10,90,963 toilets were constructed until 31 October, 2014. If we look at progress speed of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the speed of work is quite good. Within the span of two years the number of toilets built has reached up to 2.5 crores. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a collaborative effort of government, administration and locals. Due to this combined effort, the mission has resulted into a huge success story. Along with that, the process of getting grants for building toilets has been made easier and the amount of the grant which was 9,000 rupees earlier has also increased to 12,000 rupees per house hold.     

Clean India- Green India

Due to such initiatives of building toilets, states like Sikkim, Himachal and Kerala have acquired the status of ‘ODF’ i.e. open defecation free. Haryana, Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Punjab are next in the pipeline to reach this target by March 2017. Few other states are also thriving to achieve the same status. In three states Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur eighty percent work of constructing toilets has been completed. While West Bengal, Goa, Tripura and Arunanchal Pradesh are soon to reach 70 to 79 percent of its target.

PM Modi took oath on 27th may, 2014 and he announced Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on 2nd October 2014. In this short span of time this mission is touching new horizons of success. Along with the initiatives of the government, cooperation of the local administration and awareness amongst people have given pace to this project. The positive orientation of women has acted as booster for this project and they are actively engaging in its implementation.  Regarding this issue the administration is strict and determined than ever before. Lot of behavior and mindset changes have been observed. If the work of toilet building continues at this
pace, we will achieve the target of 100 percent open defecation free country before 2019.