New Delhi: Believed to have been found by Karna, a key figure in epic Mahabharat, Karnal city was recently declared open defecation free (ODF), pushing forward Haryana’s target of achieving 100 per cent toilet coverage by October 2 this year. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s own constituency Karnal had earlier missed the deadline of declaring itself ODF in December 2016, post which the officials from Karnal Municipal Corporation (KMC) revised their existing strategies and instead adopted aggressive methods of awareness. A total of 2,144 individual toilets were constructed since 2014 and 97 community or public latrines built in last two years across the city.
The ‘Target Vulnerable Open Defecation Areas’ approach was adopted by the KMC to eliminate open defecation (OD). Talking to NDTV, Dheeraj Kumar, Executive Officer, KMC says, “Areas like slums, railway tracks and villages situated on the peripheries of the city are extremely prone to OD. Hence we targeted these areas first and made them ODF.”
A Nigrani Samiti or monitoring team was first appointed which divided the ODF process into three phases- pre-triggering, triggering and follow-up. In the first stage, one-to-one interactions were carried out by the sanitation experts and officials telling them the health risks of defecating in open. In the second stage personal factors like religion, education, profession and female member’s dignity were used to motivate people to build and use toilets.
Since the slum areas do not have space to construct toilets in their houses, the civic body came up with mobile toilets. 15 mobile toilets were placed near sector 32 and 33, where the slum population is the highest. As officials were making slum dwellers habituated with the usage of toilet, community toilets were built simultaneously. Once everyone started using the toilets, these mobile toilets were shifted to another slum pocket of the city. The same drill was followed in all the 28 slum areas of Karnal. A total of 88 community toilets were constructed in slum areas and 600 families ended their practice of open defecation.
Children from slums were an integral part of the Nigrani samiti where they were given caps and whistles (to blow when they saw someone defecate in the open) to end the practice of open defecation, “Children found this idea very amusing and enthusiastically participated in it. There were hardly any instances where we had to remind them to monitor their respective areas. Everyday 4 am they were present in OD prone areas,” says Mr Kumar. Apart from children, the nigrani samiti was entrusted with the duty of visiting these areas regularly and submit their report.
Once this target was completed, the focus was shifted onto the 20 wards consisting of residential and commercial areas. Instead of luring them with the toilet subsidy, the KMC encouraged people to bulid toilets with their own money, “There is a sense of ownership that is generated if people finance their own toilet construction. If they have invested in something, they will definitely use it, it is a human tendency,” adds Mr Kumar.
In August, the civic body had made a self-declaration of ODF mark, post which verification was conducted by the state officials and Quality Council of India (QCI). After conducting a thorough examination in city’s slums, schools, residential and commercial areas and public areas like bus stands, the QCI handed over the ODF certificate to the corporation last week.
Now that the city has turned ODF, the KMC will focus on liquid and solid waste management of Karnal to attain the ODF Plus status, confirms Mr Kumar.