Last month, around 4,480 villages across 52 districts of five states on the banks of Ganga – Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal — were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) under the Namami Gange project.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat seems to have made an impact even in smaller towns with people showing ample amount of interest in sanitation projects. According to a report by Indian Express, Rajwati and her daughter Anjali who live on the Ganga ghat in UP’s Dalmau panchayat have got their home along with a toilet. “All these years, we had to wake up early and rush to the field. Setting up a stall in time was impossible. Now, we are the first to reach the ghat,” says Rajwati, a 48-year-old widow and mother of five girls.
“Now it feels like we have some dignity. Earlier, we had to go to a field along with many other people. It felt like we were part of a gathering for a fair. Now, it feels like our daughters have finally got dignity),” Rajwati told Indian Express. Last month, around 4,480 villages across 52 districts of five states on the banks of Ganga – Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal — were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) under the Namami Gange project. The report also stated that out of 200 households along the bank of Ganga in Rae Bareli, there are still around 50 without toilets. However, residents claim that change has come and people like Rajwati are pushing their neighbours to stop open defecation.
“My husband, who was a priest at the ghat, died eight years ago. Since then, I have managed to put my five daughters through school and get three of them married. But if you ask me, the biggest achievement is having built a toilet at my home… and it is connected to a septic tank as well,” says Rajwati.
According to Rajwati, it takes around Rs 40,000 to build a toilet, however, the government gave only Rs 8,000 as reimbursement which could not even cover the labour cost. However, she said she had no regrets.
Working towards making India Open Defecation Free, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh last week said that the whole country is expected to be open defecation free by October, 2019. “Providing toilet facility at home will ensure safety and dignity of women. ‘Swachhta Hi Sewa’ campaign will help improve nutrition and productivity of our children,” Singh told PTI.