When Swachh Bharat Campaign was launched in 2014, one of its key objectives was to make the country open defecation free (ODF).
Even now, there are many places across India where people continue to defecate in the open—for the lack of toilets and financial support to even construct one. In remote villages of Barpeta district, this had been the case too.
“When Swachh Bharat Mission was rolled out in 2014, we realized that the men were not enthusiastic about the work. I decided to rope in women workers as masons. They were given proper training and they embarked on this mission,” Arpana Adhikary, the mastermind behind the idea told Times of India.
Taking the lead themselves, 22 women joined hands to encourage families in their district to fund the construction of toilets themselves by providing the means.
And because of their intervention, around 480 pucca toilets have been constructed by the women in Bhulukabari and Balarvitha villages since January.
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The Swachh Bharat campaign entails ₹12,000 for the construction of each pucca toilet. However, the women sought no help from the government by convincing the families to pay for themselves.
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With 218 households in Bhulukabari and 153 households in Balarvitha having erected pucca toilets through their own expenses, the women have helped save a sum total of ₹44,52,000 from the government’s coffers.
Arpana mentioned that their work had been highly appreciated. “They are much better than their male counterparts. They know intricate details about masonry,” she added.