The Ghaziabad district administration on Thursday launched a mobile app to help officials locate areas where people defecate in the open. Volunteers and monitoring committees will now be able to send complaints and Google map locations of open defecation.
According to officials, the ‘Swachhagrah’ app is available on the Google play store but its use will be restricted to use by volunteers and monitoring committee members registered with the district open defecation free (ODF) control room. The officials aim to provide a total of 12,969 toilets by the end of April as part of the ODF programme. As many as 111 of 196 villages in the district are open defecation-free.
“Once we achieve the ODF status in all of our 196 villages, the app will help volunteers and monitoring committees to check if people are returning to old habits. They, after providing their login and password, can send complaints and even the location through the app. The complaint will be displayed to all officials and also in the control room,” said Virendra Singh, district Panchayati Raj officer.
Officials said that once they receive a complaint through the app, they will go to villages and hold counseling sessions and meetings with locals to persuade them not to return to open defecation.
“It is not very easy for people to shun the old habits. However, we resorted to various tactics to persuade them not to start open defecation again. In one instance, we went to the house of an erring person and asked him for a spade. When he asked why, we told that this will be used to clear up the land that he soiled. He felt ashamed and promised not to indulge in such a practice again,” said Tikam Nagar, a resident of Ikla village.
Officials said they had worked hard with villagers during meetings and tried to persuade them not to return to open defecation.
“We try to demonstrate with fecal matter and food plates placed nearby and show how flies are attracted and the same set of flies spoil food. In another technique of ‘triggering’, we draw a map of the village and put yellow colour to indicate open defecation areas. This helps villagers to understand the ugly look of their village when locals indulge in open defecation,” Singh added.
They said the app would come in handy as it would be provided to locals who can send complaints and location on which the officials can act.