Open defecation is a rampant problem, especially in rural areas, where there are extremely limited toilet facilities. However, with the introduction of Swachh Bharat scheme, which aims to make the country an Open Defecation Free (ODF) nation by October 2018, India seems to be tackling this problem head-on. Read here, about the steps a village can take to be successfully ODF.
According to a report in DNA, a solution that was floated to tackle open defecation is the twin-pit toilet. The safest technology for rural India, it works on a simple mechanism. The pit in the toilet fills up in around five years, and the waste can be easily redirected to the second pit, where it becomes compost in approximately six months to one year. This compost is safe to handle and is suited for agriculture. The only issue is that people are wary of the stigma associated with emptying the pit.
On Thursday, in an attempt to abolish this very stigma and set an example among his peers and the villagers present, Rajiv Mehrishi, a former IAS officer and the current Comptroller and Auditor General of India, climbed down into a twin-pit toilet in rural Maharashtra and emptied it with his bare hands.
This initiative, to empty toilet pits, took place at the Pandharewadi Gram Panchayat in Daund Block, Pune district.
Mehrishi was accompanied by Parameswaran Iyer, the Secretary of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, and several other state principal secretaries (Sanitation), and senior officers of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and senior officers of the Maharashtra government.
Speaking to the Times of India, Mehrishi spoke of how the principal idea behind emptying the pit, was to practically demonstrate that the compost is safe to handle and dispel the myths and social stigmas around touching it.
He went on to explain how there was no odour, and the compost was a solid mass This was when he realised the shovel was slowing the process down, and discarded it, taking out compost with his bare hands.
One by one, all the bureaucrats in attendance also entered the toilet pit and mined ‘wealth from waste,’ according to them.
Mehrishi stresses upon the presence of a toilet in every household and says that through concerted efforts, India can indeed be an ODF zone.
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Kudos to this civil servant for leading by example, and taking the initiative to tackle ODF at the grass-roots level.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)
Featured image credit: Param Iyer (Twitter)
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