With a view to ensuring that all officers of the Tamil Nadu government actively participate in the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) campaign, the Principal Secretary, Department of of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj on December-3 had asked them to make all possible efforts to make their native villages open defecation free (ODF).
“The letter was sent by Whatsapp to 1000 officers of the Rural Development Department, both serving and retired, the strategy being to make native villages of the officers, model ODF villages that will inspire neighbouring villages to emulate the same,” Project Director, District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Kanchipuram District, V. Jayakumar said.
If every ODF panchayat could inspire 11 neighbouring villages, the plan would cover all the 12,524 village panchayats.
“Sustainable ODF strategy is about social transformation. It can never be fully achieved only through official orders/directives. Its key premise is a call from within, to do something good for the society, leading to ownership by them. This ownership will then translate into intent which will then lead to outstanding results,” the Principal Secretary, Mr. Hans Raj Verma messaged on Whatsapp.
“So friends, a once in a lifetime historic opportunity beckons you all. Assume leadership role, forge strategic partnerships with all the stakeholders and show the world your mettle. The synergistic impact of your individual actions will enable Tamil Nadu to reclaim its rightful place at the top in the ODF campaign,” he added.
This was an opportunity for officers to give back to the society that educated them and provided employment, Jayakumar believed.
In compliance with this request, the DRDA official paid a visit to his native village of Pulavanur in Anna Grammam Block of Cuddalore in the week of 25th December 2016.
Anna Grammam Block comprises of 6 villages and about 1500 households. “I visited every home and took note of their sanitation facilities,” Jayakumar said. He also spent considerable time at the block offices, reviewing their plans, intervention activities and sanitation levels and made suggestions.
During his visit, a resident by the name Murugesan asked him to come see his brand new facility that he recently built to acquiesce to his college-going daughter Surya’s demand.
According to Surya, a 3rd year civil engineering student, the principal and teachers of Dr. Paul’s Engineering College regularly checked with students about their access to sanitation facilities and kept tabs on students who did not have a toilet at home. Having learnt about the health benefits of good sanitation practices and knowing the privacy it would afford her, she was keen to have a facility at home. To this end, she pestered her father until he agreed to have a toilet built. Over the next week, her father made all necessary arrangements and had the toilet built.
“It was a good pucca toilet and Surya was overjoyed with the facility,” Jayakumar recalled.
For the block to be ODF, as many as 494 toilets are yet to be built. If all activities take place as per plan, the block will be ODF by March 2017, he added.