The Swachh Bharat mission has seen inspiring stories of people across the country rising to the occasion to fight open defecation.
One more such example comes from the Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh. A village panchayat in the district took a firm decision of not marrying their daughters into a home that does not have a toilet.
The district’s decision is a progressive move towards eliminating open defecation. It will not only curb the prevalence of life-threatening diseases caused by the practice but also protect and uphold the dignity of women.
Open Defecation, an age-old practice in India, gives birth to numerous diseases like diarrhoea, jaundice, and polio. There are nearly 60 crore people all over the country who still need to use a toilet. Defecating in the open causes environmental pollution, let alone posing several health hazards. For a woman, it is a plight that bombards their health, safety, and dignity.
The Bigwada village in Baghpat district, around 40 kilometres from Delhi, understood the very essence of the Swachh Bharat mission. It decided to address the need to build toilets and eradicate open defecation.
A Resolute Move
The ‘sarvsamaj panchayat’ of Bigwada village of Baghpat, attended by panchayat chiefs of the ten surrounding villages, took a unanimous decision – ‘No Toilet, No Bride’. The order firmly states that none of the residents of the district will get their daughters married into a home which does not have a toilet.
The panchayat also stipulated a penalty for those violating this decision, which will be used in constructing toilets for homes that lack the basic amenities. Speaking about the decision, village pradhan, Arvind Tomar, justified that open defecation is against the dignity of a woman.
“If someone does not have money for construction of a toilet, they could avail benefits of government schemes for the same. These steps are necessary, they are being taken simply to eliminate open defecation from the district”, Tomar added. He also clarified that those going against the decision will be socially ostracised.
Marching Towards ODF
The decision taken by the village panchayat in Baghpat district was happily welcomed, especially by the women. It paves the way for the upliftment of a woman’s life in rural areas.
Though the district is not open defecation-free (ODF) yet, the Individual Household Latrine (IHHL) coverage being 86.49 percent. Recently on Bhai Dooj, two brothers from the district gave a unique gift to their sisters – a toilet.
As of now, seven districts in Uttar Pradesh are ODF. Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, has set October 2018 as a target for the state to go completely ODF. There are currently 15,000 toilets being built daily in the state, and the Baghpat district is steadily heading towards the ODF status, authorities and individuals alike.