This Diwali, around 4 lakh students in Hanumangarh district have sought a unique gift from their parents – modern toilets in their homes.
The request came on Teachers’ Day following an initiative by the district administration and education department to encourage people to build toilets at home. The students from 2,141 government and private schools in Hanumangarh district have written to their parents asking them to build modern toilets at home.
Use of traditional toilets called Dhamaka Kui is widespread in the canal irrigated area of Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar districts. The toilets are built on open pits that are 40 to 50 feet deep. They are unsafe and lead to accidents as many times the land caves in.
A letter by Himmat Rajpal, a Class 12 student in a government school in Makkasar village, reads: “Dear Papa, I haven’t seen Maa since my birth. You are the only one who cares for me. Please upgrade our ‘Dhamaka Kui’ toilet into a modern one that is covered and with a flush because using the old toilet is unhygienic. You spend on your mobile, bike and other things; why not spare some money for a modern toilet? I won’t ask you anything for Diwali.”
On receiving her letter, her father Mundra Singh promised to build a new toilet before the festival.
Another letter by a student, Mafia, reads: “Dear father, we are told about Swachh Bharat and sanitation in our school every day. Our teachers also tell us about the drawbacks of Dhamaka Kui… If it has no benefits, why do we have it at home? You have given us facilities like fridge and TV, can’t you please build a modern flush toilet for us? This Eid please gift us all a modern toilet so that all of us can follow a healthy and hygienic habit.”
District collector Gyanaram told HT the toilets that the villagers use are neither hygienic nor safe. “That’s why we planned this campaign with the help of students. We asked the students to write to their parents on the occasion of the Teachers’ Day.”
The district administration has designed a model toilet at an affordable price of just Rs 1000 to encourage the villagers to adopt it, he said.
District education officer Mohan Lal said the administration had organised a three-day training with UNICEF to motivate the villagers to upgrade the traditional toilets to modern ones.
Lal said they received an overwhelming response from the parents who willingly and happily accepted the request of the children.