90-year-old C. Alagu Ambalam and his wife A. Angammal (85) live in Achampatti village, Alanganallur panchayat union, Madurai district, Tamil Nadu. Abandoned by their two sons, the couple live in their one-room home in the company of four goats. The adjoining toilet, constructed by them under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, is their pride. They have inspired a village to go open-defecation-free by being the first volunteers to take up construction of the toilet.
Open defecation was rampant in the village as people preferred the fields and pond bunds to relieve themselves. According to a survey conducted by District Rural Development Agency, 145 of the 373 villages in the district did not have a toilet. There was lot of diffidence among the residents to have a toilet near their home. “I volunteered to construct the first toilet for which I had to dig up two pits to be used as septic tank in September last year. I and my wife assisted the masons and took care of the curing after construction,” recalls Mr. Alagu Ambalam. Today, 141 of the 145 identified homes have toilets fitted with solar lamps provided by Madurai-based Devaki Hospital. Members of the four houses, where toilets could not be constructed, use a public toilet, making Achampatti a ‘zero open defecation’ village, say DRDA officials. The village is the first among eight panchayats in Alanganallur panchayat union to contribute to Swachch Bharat mission by putting an end to open defecation.
According to S. Murugan, panchayat president, convincing the villagers to have their own toilets with the money provided by the government was very difficult. Inspired by Mr. Alagu Ambalam and Ms. Angammal, they slowly fell in line. The biggest advantage for the couple is that they need not have to walk a distance to the nearest open field to ease themselves. “It was very difficult for us in the night. Now, the toilet has provided a sense of security for us,” says Ms. Angammal. “Loneliness made our lives gloomy. The notice and recognition we got today have made us proud. This sense of pride will keep us going for some more years,” says Mr. Alagu Ambalam. The couple, who do not have any land holding, survive on the old-age pension sanctioned for Ms. Angammal, free rice drawn from the public distribution system and occasional sale of goats.
Source : The Hindu
Rajasthan, which ranks among the bottom five states in the country for open defecation, has something to cheer about. Churu is likely to become the first district in the state to be declared open defecation free. Tara Nagar block in Churu with a population of nearly 2.5 lakhs has already achieved this rare feet. Sardar Shehar, another block that is very close to achieving the 100% target of providing toilets in each household.
The District administration initiated a campaign 'Chokho Churu' where focus was on community mobilization. Public meetings, ratri chaupals (nightly village meetings) and other mass awareness programmes were carried out. District administration provided Rs 9,500 to each household under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan and NREGA. People however spent up to Rs 15,000 from their pockets in building good quality toilets.
Source : India Sanitation Portal
Motaram and some other candidates contesting Panchayat general elections this time have probably never thought that their normal routine of defecating in the open would end their dreams of becoming a leader. Like many others in the area, they never bothered to build a toilet in their home. As a result, their nominations were cancelled under new norms for panchayat elections that were introduced through a recent ordinance passed by the Rajasthan government.
Besides fixing the minimum qualification for candidates, the ordinance said there should be a functional toilet in the house of a candidate and no member of his family should defecate in the open.
Source : Hindustan Times