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Madhya Pradesh’s novel tactics against open defecation find success

The initiatives are novel and many. Rewarding men who gift a toilet to their sisters, use Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘fourth’ monkey with a message on T-shirts, broadcast ‘live’ names of people relieving themselves in the open.

bhopal Updated: Oct 02, 2016 16:40 IST
Neeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
open defecation,Mahatma Gandhi,T-shirts
Mahatma Gandhi's '4 monkey' t-shirts , Harda was marked Open Defecation Free (ODF) in August earlier this year(File photo)

The initiatives are novel and many. Rewarding men who gift a toilet to their sisters, use Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘fourth’ monkey with a message on T-shirts, broadcast ‘live’ names of people relieving themselves in the open.

All these, to encourage people to make Madhya Pradesh “open defecation-free”.

On October 2, when Swachh Bharat Mission completes two years, HT took a look at some of the innovative measures the state took to encourage authorities and local residents to make their respective districts open defecation-free. District administrations have been trying their best to ensure their areas achieve the target as soon as possible.

Harda was among the first districts whose innovative initiatives were appreciated by many, including the prime minister. It was declared open defecation free on August 15 this year. In July last year, district authorities launched a ‘Bhai No. 1 contest’ in Harda to reward brothers who gift toilet to their sisters. The men had to submit a photograph of their sister and the toilet. The initiative found mention in PM Narendra Modi’s monthly ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio broadcast.

This August, Gandhi’s ‘fourth’ monkey marked Harda district as open defecation-free. A fourth monkey was added to the Mahatma’s three monkeys on a T-shirt design, with the message ‘no defecation in the open’. The collector Harda himself wore the t-shirt, inspiring others to wear it.

In Betul district this January, a woman sarpanch decided to broadcast live the names of residents in her area found defecating in the open from a “control room” at the panchayat bhawan. Khusli Bai said the civic body took the step after several residents continued with the habit of open defection. She formed a 12-member committee to spot such people.

In March this year, a barber in Bhuteda village of Ratlam refused to give a shave or haircut to anyone from a household that does not have a toilet. A vendor from the same village also decided to stop delivering vegetables to those with no toilets at home.

In June, teachers in Satna were ordered to keep watch on people who defecate in open and take their photos on their mobiles. The Unchehra Block education officer directed teachers to watch for people who defecate in the open between 5 am to 7 am and for an hour from 7 pm. (The order was revoked after a while.)

Authorities in Harda sent three villagers to jail for open defecation in June. The action was taken under section 151of CrPc (Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences) for speaking against the ‘open defecation-free’ campaign. In the same month, a sub-divisional magistrate in Barwani sent a youth to jail (under Section 151 of CrPC) after he was caught defecating in the open in his Jalgon village. Harda district authorities also imposed a fine of Rs 500 on anyone found defecating in the open and a reward of Rs 100 to anyone who informs the administration about anyone defecating in the open.

The Centre, under Swachh Bharat Mission, has set a target to make the country open defecation-free by October 2, 2019, which coincides with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

52% of MP’s 1.12 crore households without toilet facility

Hymavathi Varman, state coordinator for Swachh Bharat Mission, said these innovative initiatives and steps taken by authorities and people make it evident that the PM’s ambitious project had taken the shape of a public movement. This year, two of the state’s districts—Indore and Harda—were declared open defection-free. “MP has 1.12 crore households, of which 52% don’t have a toilet facility,” she said. “In the last two years, over 20 lakh toilets have been constructed. In the remaining two years, we have set a target to construct over 55 lakh toilets.”

First Published: Oct 02, 2016 16:40 IST