Women of the predominantly Muslim village of Rahta Billoch in Bijnor district have taken the initiative to end the practice of open defecation and get toilets constructed, using their own savings. They said they have been inspired to take this step by observing the district officials, who have been working hard to ensure that all the villages in Bijnor district have adequate toilet facilities.
The villagers convened a panchayat meeting on Sunday evening under the leadership of village pradhan, Anjum Khanam. Women outnumbered men in this meeting. The agenda of the panchayat was to encourage people to get toilets constructed to put a stop to the practice of open defecation.
Rahta Billoch has a population of about 6000 and most of its residents are labourers. Many expressed incapability in spending thousands of rupees on toilet construction. “Much to my surprise, several poor women offered their small savings to their family members for getting the toilets constructed,” Anjum Khanam told HT over phone. Khanam added that she assured the panchayat of getting the toilets built through her own available resources.
“It was indeed a matter of pride for me that these women came forward to ensure the success of the campaign,” said the pradhan, who claimed that construction work for six toilets had already begun in the first phase of the project. Khanam said that she also assured villagers of getting a public toilet built in the village.
Speaking about the requirement of the village, she informed that the village needed more than 250 toilets and that the panchayat had decided to achieve the target as soon as possible. Khanam and her husband Irshad Khan have appointed two people to take care of cleanliness and other requirements for the constructed toilets. A team of villagers has also been formed to discourage people from answering nature’s call in the open.
Former district magistrate of Bijnor, VK Anand had worked hard to make the district free of open defecation and the campaign has continued even after his transfer. As per district officials, 41 villages have been made free of open defecation, while work is in progress in 120 other villages. A 15-member committee has been formed under the leadership of chief development officer, Indramani Tripathi to monitor the campaign before declaring the district open defecation free.