MADHYA PRADESH: In Madhya Pradesh’s Guradiya Varma village, about 120 kilometres from Bhopal, 21-year-old Anita Kaleshriya is an inspiration for many.
Enthused by a workshop on cleanliness organised by a local group, she built a toilet in her house in May last year with money from her government scholarship fund.
“During the workshop I made up my mind that we have to have a toilet at home now. I asked my father to build a toilet as it would only cost Rs. 5,000 but father said he does not have even that much,” Anita Kaleshriya told NDTV.
“Then I withdrew Rs. 3,000 from my scholarship money and got the work started. Now we have no problems as we have a toilet at home,” she said.
Now, Anita has become an unofficial ambassador for the campaign to build toilets in her village and nearby areas.
Almost every day people from her village and nearby come to see the toilet she has had built in her house, asking her how they can do the same. So far, 35 families have gone back and built toilets in their homes.
Anita’s neighbour Seema Kaleshriya says, “I visited their house to see how the toilet was built. I liked it. And then we also constructed a toilet at our home. It’s very convenient for women like me my bhabhi and grandmother. We do not have to go out.”
The village panchayat is proud of Anita and her efforts to create awareness. A Central government scheme announced last year has also gone a long way in helping out the village construct toilets by giving as much as Rs. 12,000 to families that construct toilets.
Villagers however say, the rule which says they first have to build a toilet and only then they get funds to finance it deters many.
But the authorities say it is necessary to make sure the money is not spent elsewhere.
Yogendra Singh Thakur, secretary of the village panchayat says, “Many find the rule strange but I feel that we also need a basic commitment from people that they will build toilets we cannot give them the full amount in advance.”
The village in total has 748 families of which 360 families did not have toilets. In the last one year, supported by the panchayat and encouraged by Anita, almost a hundred toilets have been constructed.
The panchayat now aims that by the end of this year, each family will have a toilet at their home.