The lady who was the pioneer of the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' is no more. 106-year-old Kunwar Bai was honoured by PM Narendra Modi in 2016 for making her village open defecation free.
The lady who was the pioneer of the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ is no more. 106-year-old Kunwar Bai was honoured by PM Narendra Modi in 2016 for making her village open defecation free. PM Modi had felicitated Kunwar Bai on September 17, 2016 for building toilet by selling off her goats. He felicitated her at a function in the national capital to mark Swachhta Diwas, and chose her as the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ mascot.
Kunwar Bai’s efforts bore fruits when in 2016, Dhamtari in Chhattisgarh became the first district in the state to be declared Open defecation free. Kunwar Bai, who lived with her family in Dhamtari’s Kotabharri village, had also been spreading awareness about the importance of using toilets to other villagers. Setting an example, she had sold off her 8-10 goats to build two toilets at her home. Subsequently, she started showing other villagers the toilets at her home while informing them about its importance.
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Kunwar Bai hit headlines when Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised her, addressing her as “Ma Kunwar Bai Yadav”. He asked the media to follow her and not him. In fact, at a rally in Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon in February 2016, PM Modi had even touched Kanwar Bai’s feet. The Prime Minister, who was in Chhattisgarh to launch the ambitious Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban (rural-urban) Mission, felicitated Kunwar Bai from Kotabharri village of Dhamtari and then touched her feet to seek blessings. Ambagarh Chowki and Chhuriya blocks of Rajnandgaon were also declared open defecation free by PM Modi during the programme.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Wednesday had wished Kunwar Bai a speedy recovery on Wednesday. He had instructed the Collector to ensure best possible treatment for Kunwar Bai. Raman Singh had sought her blessings to continue serving the people of Chhattisgarh, via a video call.
According to ANI report, the 2015 Swachhta Status Report states that more than half of the rural population (52.1 percent) of the country defecates in the open. Chhattisgarh was among the states with lowest percentage of households having toilets (21.2 percent). The Swachh Bharat Mission aims to eradicate open defecation by 2019.