Hundreds of Prosopis juliflora bushes in Pasumpon Nagar village located in Madurai District of Tamil Nadu were known for providing a hiding place for people to relieve themselves or throw garbage. But this was untill last year.
Today, Pasumpon Nagar that comes under the Sakkimangalam Panchayat is seen as a model village, thanks to the cleanliness efforts of the residents and the district rural development agency (DRDA).
There is a garbage processing yard at the entrance of the village. A team of 18 women work in four clusters and operate it. They collect garbage from Sakkimangalam, segregate it, and stock the non-biodegradable waste in an abandoned building. They then make manure from the biodegradable waste and sell it. The area that was covered with juliflora bushes has been turned into a garden with many neem and mango trees.
All 97 households in the village have toilets. Visitors are told not to defecate in the open. Nine out of 15 villages of Sakkimangalam village panchayat are open defecation free.
“We were feeling bad about the situation but did not know what to do. That was when the district rural development agency came up with a subsidy scheme to construct individual household toilets. Many villagers opted for it. The women in our village took it as a challenge and turned it into an open defecation-free village. Today, neighbouring villagers are visiting our village to learn more about the transformation,” P Ponpandian, a resident of the village told The Times of India.
DRDA project director Rohini Ramdas congratulated the village residents and said that this is a perfect example of how hygiene can transform villages in India. K Selvi, secretary of the Grama Varumai Ozhippu Sangam (village poverty reduction committee) added that the panchayat president Rahamath Subahathullah and DRDA officials helped the villagers at every step.