New Delhi: The city of temples – Varanasi aims to go open defecation free by constructing around 2.51 lakh toilets by December 31, 2017, till now 1.1 lakh toilets have been constructed in the city. In a bid to fast-track toilet construction under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the local authorities have decided to make two blocks of Varanasi out of its eight Blocks free from open defecation by this Rashtriya Swachhta Diwas – October 2. As a part of their Swachhata Hi Seva campaign, every single day, the local authorities are constructing around 1100 toilets in the city.
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Earlier we were making 47 toilets a day, but, we have improved our construction rate and are now building 1100 toilets a day. This push is part of our Swachhata Hi Seva initiative and we have started this in two of our blocks that were lagging way behind in the construction of toilets, said Sunil Verma, Chief Development Officer Varanasi.
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There are some 5,000 workers in the city who are trained to build twin pit model toilet.
Apart from toilet construction, Varanasi has launched various campaigns to motivate people to construct toilets in their households.
Construct Toilet At Home And Get Paid
In a first, Varanasi has launched a campaign that encourages anganwadi and asha workers to convince other people to build toilets and guide them on benefits of using a toilet.
Explaining the initiative taken by the authorities, Sunil Verma added, we give Rs 75 to each of the workers who convince people in building toilets; say an anganwadi worker who motivated 10 people in one month to construct toilets at home will get Rs 750. We give money to the worker only when the toilet is constructed by an individual in their house. But, it doesn’t end there. After building toilets, just to ensure that people are using the toilets they have constructed, we do follow up visits. If people or houses are using these, then we give Rs 25 additional to the workers who help in motivating these people to construct toilets.
The Good Old ‘Triggering-the-Human’ Technique
Another step adopted by Varanasi in order to beat the age-old practice of open defecation is a simple method in which people of the city are motivated to build toilets via triggering technique, Sunil Verma adds, “We mix religious beliefs, social and traditional beliefs all together and try to encourage and educate people why constructing toilet is important for them. There is a team of five people in every block, village who go door-to-door simply to make people aware that defecating in the open is bad.”
Explaining some techniques, Mr Verma said, sometimes, we will make a map in the sand and ask the villagers – where is your farm, where do you take your animals to relieve themselves, where do you go yourself if you need to relieve yourself, and then show them how they are opening gates to so many health problems just by defecating in the open. There are times when we will ask them ‘do you believe in the mighty Ganga, do you treat it as God and then educate them how if they choose to defecate in the open near ghats, they are polluting their God.
With Nigrani Samiti and Swatchhagrahi, Varanasi Is Going Towards Becoming A Open Defecation Free City
There is one Nigrani Samiti and Swatchhagrahi appointed in each of the block, gram panchayat and village. The Nigrani Samiti ensures that they stop people from defecating in the open while the Swatchhagrahi coordinator will coordinate with Nigrani Samiti and will make sure that the toilet is constructed in the house of the defaulter.
These two bodies work in our city very closely, the Nigrani Samiti takes round of the city every morning and night, just to keep a check on open defecation practice. If they catch hold of the defaulters then they motivate them to construct toilet and pass the defaulter name and information to the Swatchhagrahi who then ensures the construction of toilet at their house, added Mr Verma.
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In the recently held Swachh Rankings, PM’s constituency Varanasi was the only Uttar Pradesh city among top 100, the city was ranked 32 whereas it was at 65th rank last year and 418th in 2014. The improved cleanliness rank is due to various efforts made by the Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN), a nodal body for the Swachh Bharat mission in the city. The city has carried various cleanliness awareness drives , sanitation volunteers have knocked the doors of each house in old city and appealed people not to throw garbage in the open and instead use dustbins.
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