Kurukshetra is home to the great battle of Indian mythology, fought between Pandavas and Kauravas. Eons since then, this town in Haryana is set to brace for a major victory on the Sanitation front. The village of Khanpur Kholiya, along with Masana and Sawla, has received the central government’s Nirmal Gram Puruskar. It means that no single person/child in any of these villages defecates in public.
In about 400 of the 417 villages of this district, people have stopped defecating in the open heralding a sanitation revolution in these parts.Villagers in this district no longer greet each other the old way. They raise clenched fists and shout “Swachh gaon, swasth gaon”(Clean village, Healthy Village!)
Building toilets in the village was difficult. But more than that, it was important to spread awareness as to the reason they were built. There are numerous success stories in Kurushetra today. These would not have been possible without the social mobilization and initiative of the women in the village.
“We caught them, we shamed them, we didn’t fight with them physically, but what we did was enough,” says sarpanch (village head) Jasvinder Kaur. “We had announced a reward of Rs.500 to whoever caught someone defecating in the open. Since all those people ran away as soon as we shone our torches at their faces, no one got the reward,” she laughs.
The women also came up with new ideas!
“Our daughter will be married only to a family that has a toilet at home”. It dramatically decreased the percentage of people holding out against the new construction, chuckles Satwant Kaur, at 70 an inspiration to the village women’s committee.
The Nirmal Gram Puraskar was launched by the Government of India in 2002 with the objective to promote rural sanitation, especially to eliminate the practice of open defecation and to reward PRIs (Gram Panchayats, Panchayat Samitis, Zilla Panchayat), individuals and institutions for their sustained efforts towards achieving it. Further details are available on the website www.ddws.nic.in
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