(The Gist of Kurukshetra) SWACHHTA
SITAMARHI PULLS OFF AMBITIOUS PIT – DIGGING CAMPAIGN
People of the district of Sitamarhi in Bihar contributed to digging of as
many as 1,03,232 pits as a part of their campaign titled Gaddha Khodo Shauchalay
Banao Abhiyan on 11th June, 2018. The move was intended to give a boost to the
Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) campaign and complete the balance toilets
required to make the district open defecation free (ODF). The campaign began at
8 am on 11th June when the District Magistrate, Dr. Ranjeet Kumar Singh himself
dug 8 pits. As for the rest of the pits, every one pitched in to help. From
district officials, to personnel from various government departments to PRI
representatives to individuals from all walks of life everyone joined in to meet
the target and bring about access to sanitation for all.
Considered the birth place of Sita (jagat Janani MaaJaanki), Sitamarhi in
Bihar, is a northern district of Bihar, located near the Nepal border. It is one
of the most backward districts of the country with 85% of its population living
below the poverty line and literacy pegged at 52%. The district is also prone to
natural disasters, going by the 13 national disasters it has experienced so far.
Floods are common each year and the district is low of various socio-economic
indicators such as literacy, owing to which, it has been adopted as NITI Aayog’s
As far as sanitation is concerned, in October 2014, coverage was barely
21.3%. Over the past 3 years, as many as 3.11 lakhs toilets were built of which,
2.38 lakhs were completed in 2017. In addition to such toilet construction
activity, there has been extensive triggering and awareness building exercises
with a view to bringing about behaviour change. Yet, at the beginning of June
2018, approximately 1.10 lakh households still needed toilets. According to
ZSBP-Sitamarhi, Guru Ratnam, the Gaddha Khodo Shauchalay Banao campaign was
called for by the District Magistrate who has previously run other ambitious
campaigns such as enrolling of 17,006 students in one hour in government
schools; and organizing a Prabhat Pheri that saw a record attendance of 16 lakh
people about 10 days ago.
It was riding on this momentum of mass mobilization that the pit digging
campaign was organized. Ahead of the campaign, the district administration had
carried out a detailed survey of households left out of the 2012 Baseline
Survey. Thereafter, trained swachhagrahis or motivators were sent out to those
homes to convince them to build toilets. People were persuaded to provide free
labour for the pit digging campaign. In addition, a nodal officer was assigned
to every 200 households, even as multi-layered monitoring was carried out. Guru
Ratnam said that at 5 pm on 11th June, digging of 56754 pits was completed,
leaving a balance of 44,000 pits. Most of all, the event showcased people-power
and what the effective convergence of all government departments, private sector
and the general public could achieve when they cooperated and worked together
for a noble cause. Even the local MLAs and MP5 joined in and offered their
support. As of now, of the 17 blocks in the district, 3 are ODF. This Gaddha
Khodo Shauchalay Banao Abhiyan is likely to make the remaining 14 blocks ODF,
following which a detailed verification will be done.
BAL SWACHHATA RATHS’, ‘DIAL ODF’WW VANS IN KASHI VIDYAPITH BLOCK OF VARANASI
Given that it is easy for people to revert to their old behaviour of defecating
in the open, officials of Kashi Vidyapith Block in Varanasi of Uttar Pradesh are
making all possible efforts to sustain their recently achieved open defecation
free (ODF) status. The block situated on the banks of the River Ganga was the
first in the district to be declared ODF on 23rd October 2017.
In addition, they have started three ’Bal Swachhata Raths’ to monitor quality
of toilets in schools and anganwadis. Poor maintenance and unused school toilets
are the major reason behind failure of villages to sustain ODF status as noticed
during the third party ODF verification. The team in each van comprises an
officer and 3 safaikarmis, equipped with cleaning material and equipment to
clean toilets immediately, if found dirty. They will also fill in a
questionnaire about quality and usage of toilets and report back to office.
Action will be taken for improvement, based on their reports.
In addition, three ’Dial ODF’ vans have been launched for each of the tehsils.
These vans will carry PRD (Prantiya Raksha Dal) Jawans to assist the Nigrani
Samitis in each of three tehsils. A complaint and feedback landline is also in
place and the number has been publicized so people can complain about ODF
issues. Nigrani samitis have been given uniforms and a set target, based on
which incentives will be provided.
‘Kachra Mahotsava’ (garbage festival) have been organized from time to time
with the purpose to create an awareness people on upcycling, recycling and reuse
of waste products effectively, more so creatively. On his visit to Kachra
Mahotsava in Varanasi, PM said that it was a wonderful initiative, and such
festivals are vital for spreading awareness or cleanliness and giving strength
to the Swachh Bharat Mission. The idea of organizing a garbage festival in PM
Modi’s constituency Varanasi came from Raipur’s Kachra Mahotsava, which was held
from January 19 – January 22, and was even lauded by PM Modi in his 41st edition
of “Mann Ki Baat” radio talks.