The slogan, ‘no toilet, no bride,' seems to be working wonders for sanitation in Haryana. In just one year (2011), 330 gram panchayats have been turned into ‘nirmal gram' or clean villages.
The Total Sanitation Campaign spearheaded by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, under the Ministry of Rural Development, gathered pace in 2010, when 259 gram panchayats in the State put an end to open defecation and ensured total sanitation in villages.
And in 2011, 330 gram panchayats slogged away at it to earn the distinction.
The drive was not so easy: it required a persistent campaign and a dawn vigil mounted by a dedicated team to dissuade people from defecating in the open.
“A baton-wielding team did the rounds at 4 a.m., persuading the people to abandon the practice…We also highlighted the benefits of using toilets,” said Preetam Singh, a sarpanch.
Importantly, the campaign underscored the dignity of women. This helped to rope in women and children. And it stressed the cleanliness of the entire village, highlighting how to take care of even cow dung.
And then, the slogan was added to the campaign to pressure men and women to make sure that toilets were part of their houses for their own hygiene, and the goodness of society as a whole.
On its part, the State government appointed 11,000 safai karmacharis in rural areas to keep the villages clean.
As many as 1,578 gram panchayats have been declared nirmal grams, out of a total of 6,083.
Accepting the challenge thrown down by Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh to make Haryana a clean State within three years, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda vowed to complete the task in two years and 10 months.
Only Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh have attained the status.
Mr. Ramesh and Mr. Hooda distributed the nirmal gram puraskars to the heads of 330 panchayats at a function here on Saturday.
Mr. Ramesh announced the renaming of the total sanitation campaign as Nirmal Bharat. It would converge with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), so that more money could be given for building village toilets. The Union government would give Rs. 9,000-Rs. 9,500 for a toilet, as against the current limit of Rs. 4,000-Rs. 4,500.
While Rs. 4,500 will be given from the Nirmal Bharat fund, a like sum will flow from the MGNREGS. The State is expected to chip in with Rs. 1,000 and the beneficiary household will have to pay up Rs. 600-Rs. 700. The Union Cabinet is seized of the matter.