Chawarpatha block in Narsinghpur district is set to become the first block in Madhya Pradesh to provide lavatories to all its residents.
The block, comprising 218 villages and 83 panchayats, will be declared open defecation-free (ODF) on October 8 after completion of the third party inspections.
According to Narsinghpur district panchayat chief executive officer (CEO) the task was challenging as it was hard to convince the residents to give up the habit to defecate in the open.
“To provide personal and community toilets to residents were not the major issue. More than this we had to work hard to convince the people to give up the habit of open defecation. Till now, all sarpanches and officers have to keep an eye on villagers,” Narsinghpur district panchayat CEO, Kaushlendra Singh,told HT.
“In villages, people give lame excuses for not using the lavatories—some even come with stories like they had a fight with their mother, who in turn did not allow them to use the toilet. Some even say they had locked the toilet and lost the key…Through proper monitoring and daily visits now villagers have been convinced to use toilets,” he added.
Sarpanch of one of the villages that fall under this block, Indresh Yadav, said that their team had to make a round of the village for at least two hours in the morning to keep a check on the people and discourage them from defecating in the fields of other open spots.
“We dissuade people by explaining to them that the habit of answering nature’s call in open will leave a negative impact on the health of their family members. The process took time, but finally we succeeded,” Yadav said.
The team of different departments including MP Urja Vikas Nigam, different NGOs working for sanitation and others are monitoring the block before it is declared open defecation-free.
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, launched by PM Narendra Modi completed one year this October 2. The programme aims at attaining a 100% open defecation-free India by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.