New Delhi: Karva Chauth, a traditional festival where wives fast an entire day for husband’s long life, got a new twist this year in Uttar Pradesh. Husbands in several parts of the state took a pledge to protect the dignity of their wives by gifting them a toilet. Municipal authorities in Varanasi, Agra and Sambhal district came, in a bid to make their respective regions open defecation free (ODF) sent out circulars urging the husbands to build a toilet at home.
The Varanasi district, which had previously used Rakshabandhan to speed up the ODF process, launched the Pati No 1 contest in 16 blocks two days before the Karva Chauth. “Wives will demand “Izzatghar” (Toilets) in place of sari or jewellery on Karva Chauth as token of love and affection from their husbands,” said Sunil Kumar Verma, chief development officer, Varanasi Zilla Panchayat. The contest is open till November 10 and two winners from each block will be given awards like smart phones. Along with sending a picture of the toilet, the husband will also have to write a letter stating the importance of a toilet in his wife’s life. The contest will take into consideration factors like speed and quality of the construction and the most inspiring story will be given a tablet.
The contest in Varanasi was launched after the success of ‘Bhai No 1’ contest where brothers gifted toilets to their sisters as a Rakshabandhan gift. “A total of 143 toilets were built due to this competition and this resulted in saving Rs 17.6 Lakh from Swachh Bharat Mission Rural budget,” added Mr Verma.
The new scheme under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been welcomed by the residents of Varanasi. 41-year old Fateema Rehman who moved to Varanasi after marriage 20 years ago doesn’t have a toilet at home and hence has been forced to defecate in open, “Though our family is used to defecating in open since years, it does sometime take a toll on health. I am very happy with ‘Husband No 1’ scheme launched in our region. My husband has promised me to build a toilet at home and has registered in this scheme.”
The Agra Nagar Nigam has launched a similar contest. ‘Husband no 1’ certificates along with cash prizes will be given to men who pledge to construct a toilet at home for their wives on this Karva Chauth. The contest will be conducted in 695 gram panchayats of 15 blocks of the region. Under this scheme, a husband has to simply click a picture of a toilet that has already been built or one which is undergoing the construction process and send it to the concerned officials. A WhatsApp number has been given to the residents.
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The Sambhal district Chief Development Officer Prem Prakash Tripathi appealed men who do not have a toilet at home to gift it to their wives, “Sambhal: Chief Development Officer PP Tripathi asks those who don’t have a toilet in the house to gift their wives one on #KarvaChauth,” tweeted ANI.
Schemes like these will certainly fasten the toilet construction process in the state. India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh has set a target of making the state ODF by 2018 and to achieve this deadline, 15,000 toilets get constructed everyday.