- 5,80,000 toilets were constructed in 22 districts of Haryana
- Haryana is the fourth state to achieve the target of open defecation free
- The next aim for rural Haryana is to get the ODF Plus status
New Delhi: In 2012 around 7 lakh households in rural Haryana didn’t have any toilet facility and as a result used to practice open defecation. Today, rural Haryana has successfully achieved the tag of Open Defecation Free by constructing more than 5,80,000 individual toilets in 22 districts of the state. The state has joined the league of Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Uttarakhand which were the first four states to be declared ODF under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. To complete the construction of nearly 6 lakh toilets, across 6,205 panchayats, and to break the age-old practice of open defecation in a state like rural Haryana, has indeed been a daunting task. So, what did the Swachh Bharat Gramin of Haryana do differently? Here’s the successful journey of the state:
From ‘No Toilet, No Bride’ policy to women sarpanches marching forward at 4 am to check the defaulters who were defecating openly in their city, to celebrating Swachh Eid, rural Haryana has left no stones unturned to achieve the most important thing – being declared Open Defecation Free.
The No-Incentive Policy
Under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the government gives a subsidy of Rs. 12,000 for all and Rs. 15,000 (for SCs and STs) to people so that they can construct toilets for themselves. But, the amount is given to them after they have built the toilet.
Explaining one of the innovative ways adopted by the state, Rajendra Mehta, Co-ordinator of Swachh Bharat Mission (Haryana) told NDTV, from last one year we were following a ‘No-Incentive’ policy, meaning, we told each and every one that they will have to build toilets on their own at any cost – no incentive will be given until unless they make toilets all by themselves. The reason was to make them take actions on a priority basis. Now that they have made the toilets we want to make sure that they use it too. Once we will get that assurance we will give them the subsidised amount.
The idea for following a ‘no-incentive’ policy was to make sure that the practice of Open Defecation is eradicated completely from all the areas of rural Haryana.
No Toilet, No Bride Scheme
The Nuh district of Haryana was in news for all the right reasons! They took a unique resolution in a mega panchayat meeting and that was about – no women from their villages would be married into a household that did not have a toilet. This was their unique way to fight the age-old tradition of open defecation that is so prevalent across India.
According to the Swachh Gramin officers, to make the policy a success the bride and groom had to produce a certificate from their village sarpanch, confirming that they have a toilet at their home.
Before this scheme kicked in, about 65 per cent of the houses in Nuh district already had toilets. The aim is to achieve the 100% toilet coverage.
Let’s Celebrate Swachh Eid
Though the Nuh district had made commendable progress in its ODF campaign since the inception of other initiatives within the district, the district administration officers decided to simply leverage the opportunity further given that June is the holy month of Ramzan. The swachh officers asked all its cluster officers to put in extra efforts and meet the target of 100% ODF before Eid simply because they wanted to celebrate a ‘Swachh Eid’.
Triggering The Human Technique
In addition, what really made a difference to convince people about not defecating in open was the trigger technique. Here’s how the officials adopted this tool,
We wanted the villager’s to be pro-active in building toilets, that’s why we adopted triggering-the-human tool – we used to hurt their sentiments in some way or other so that they can build toilets at their home as soon as possible. For example, we used to collect the human waste from the open fields and put it like a show at a popular village spot. Obviously, no one wants to see those sights. That was exactly our point of discussion, added Rajendra Mehta.
Moved by all these instances, villagers joined the anti-open defecation squad in rural Haryana and that was the success mantra for the state.
Rural Haryana adopted this as a thumb rule – build community pressure and involve as many people as possible because at the end of the day it is a people’s moment. Open defecation is simply not about the construction of toilets, but to bring in a behavioural change among the public. That was simply our motive, said Mr Mehta.
Apart from all these unique tools adopted by different panchayats in rural Haryana, there were women self-help groups which were made within each village who would go out early in the mornings and late at night just to stop the defaulters from defecating in the open.
The ODF Plus Project
We all know what ODF is but not many people know about ODF plus. In addition to open defecation free status, ODF Plus refers to total sanitation in terms of solid waste management, improved sewerage lines, storm water drains and pucca cement roads.
Highlighting this concept, Mr Mehta added, we have constructed toilets that are fine but its sustainability and maintenance posed huge challenges for the state, to overcome this issue, the SBM under the state has already begun a pilot project of ODF plus in 16 villages of the state. We are working towards improving overall sanitation in these villages, that’s the target of ODF plus.
Haryana’s Very Own ‘Trump Sulabh Village’ Which Is Dedicated To US President
In another innovative move to make the state completely free from open defecation, and as part of a promotional push to raise cash and support for better sanitation and toilet facilities, Sulabh International founder Bindeshwar Pathak decided to rename Haryana’s Marora village as ‘Trump Sulabh Village’.
Rural Haryana’s approach towards achieving an ODF status sets an example worth following for other villages/districts and cities across the country. From being a conservative and old thinking state to being an open defecation free state of India, rural Haryana has come a long way.