Pushparaj (54) was recently discharged from a hospital near Salem in Tamil Nadu after being treated for snake bite. Of the 12 days he spent at the medical facility, 5 were in the ICU; and the treatment cost him about Rs 2.45 lakhs.
“I normally go to the same area for my ablutions each morning but saw nothing amiss,” said he, certain that he had stepped on a snake that bit him. The agricultural labourer could not recall much thereafter; but when he came to, he was in hospital.
According to his daughter-in-law Mahalakshmi, passersby saw him on the ground and carried him home where they thought he had had a heart attack. But under his knee were marks of a snake bite; he might have stepped on one. This was later confirmed when a dead snake was found near the area where Pushparaj had fallen. He regained consciousness only after 5 days but had to remain in hospital for another week.
“A toilet is now being built, I cannot go out any longer,” a traumatized Pushparaj said. The near-death incident has served as a catalyst, convincing others in Paradesipatti village in Kandili Block of Vellore of the need for toilets; persuading them to build and use them.
Confirming the incident, SBM trainer, A Radha said that open defecation is common in the village, even though many residents have toilets. However, many of them use the facility for storage. The SBM team has conducted several awareness and training programmes; but not all people took the matter seriously. Nonetheless, she believes that the scare given by the snake-bike incident is making people rethink their action.
Under the circumstances, Radha believes that by year end the village can become ODF.