150 women to get Rs.10, 000 each; they will have to repay the amount in 24 months

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned loans to the tune of Rs. 15 lakh to help 150 rural women construct individual toilets in their houses.

Cheques for Rs. 10,000 each would be distributed to the women who are members of 10 water and sanitation societies in the district.

The women include employees under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, farm labourers and members of self help groups, in the age group of 40 to 50 years. They will have to repay the loan in monthly instalments of Rs. 500 over 24 months at an interest rate of 12 percent.

LEAF Society, an NGO working on the health and sanitation aspects in rural pockets, helped the women societies obtain loans. The director of the NGO, S.L. Sathiya Nesan said that they faced lot of difficulty to form societies to put an end to open defecation and to stress on the need to construct toilets.

Awareness meetings

“We organised over 50 awareness meetings highlighting the need for toilets and that open defecation was an unhygienic practice. These women were initially reluctant to construct toilets as they were defecating in open for generations”, he told The Hindu and added that the first society in the district was formed at Sanarpudur in Rasipuram Taluk in April 2011.

“The society was formed with 20 members and has increased to 35 now. Members pool in Rs. 105 a month into their society’s general fund. This is distributed as loan to fellow members to be exclusively used for constructing individual toilets and drinking water supply to their houses”, he added.

President of the society P. Rajamani (43) said that their society has collected Rs. 1.18 lakh from the members over the years.

“Twelve members have obtained loan from the fund to construct toilets, of whom 10 have completed construction while two more are under way”, she added.

Nine more societies were formed in the following months – one more at Sanarpudur, two at Kalankulam, MGR Colony, Kathanathampatti, Kuttaladampatti in Venanthur Block and at Aniyapuram, Thipramadevi and Kupampalayam villages in Mohanur Block – and have a total of more than 150 members.

Realising that they would not be able to construct individual toilets in a short span with the little money pooled in by them, they urged the NGO to help them obtain loan to construct toilets.

Assistant General Manager of NABARD S. Bhuvarahavan said that cheques would be distributed to beneficiaries only after they dug leach pits for the toilets, to ensure that the fund for construction of toilets is not diverted. He said that last week cheques were given away to 30 women and that the rest will be given away in a month.

“Loan sanctioned by NABARD for construction of toilets was a pilot project that was initiated at Namakkal and Kanyakumari (for a smaller group). It could be extended to other districts and more groups based on the successful outcome of the projects here”, Mr. Bhuvarahavan said.