Tribal-dominated Mhow is racing towards becoming the first block in the state to be declared open defecation free (ODF). This is indeed good news as this means that every household in the block will now boast of a toilet.
At present, toilets are being constructed on a war footing all over the block as the aim is to complete the work before the end of the financial year. A detailed survey conducted by the district panchayat, which is carrying out the work, found out that 7,200 toilets would be needed and out of these 6,258 have been completed so far. All the toilets are being funded under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.
Chief executive officer of district panchayat Ashish Singh said initially there was resistance not from women but from men.
“When we floated the idea, the women were all in favour of toilets as they are ones who face the real difficulty. Most of the men were neutral to the idea, but we counselled them and they agreed.”
Initially, the pace of construction of toilets was slow as it was linked to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), but when it was brought under the ambit of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan a couple of months back, the speed picked up.
In fact, from January 11 to February 8, 1,963 toilets were constructed in the block, which is a record in itself, officials said.
Under MGNREGA, a beneficiary used to get R10,000 out of which the subsidy amount of Rs 4,600 was paid to him directly. The rest of the money was for manual labour which the person used to get it through MGNREGA.
However, under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, the subsidy stands at Rs 12,000 which goes directly to the beneficiary, district panchayat officials said.
Singh said they selected Mhow block as it had 30% tribal population and open defecation was a major problem here. He expressed confidence that the work would be completed by March 31.
When asked about Mhow being the first block, Singh added, “A couple of years ago, Badnawar in neighbouring Dhar district had attempted to become the first ODF block but after verification by an independent agency, which is part of the process for being declared an ODF block, the claim was found to be exaggerated.”