When head constable with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Vikas Thakur heard about the Gram Sabha of his panchayat being held on October-2, he went all the way from Dehradun to attend the same. He had been very interested in the State’s ‘ODF and safe drinking water campaign.’
The Gram Sabha was being held in Bhadhana Gram Panchayat of Sirmaur District in Himachal Pradesh. As the meeting progressed, Thakur felt compelled to do something to support the campaign and make his village open defecation free (ODF). With this in mind, he handed over a cheque that amounted to Rs 57,000, his two months’ salary. He wanted each of the families who were yet to have toilets at home to receive an incentive of Rs 1000 each to hasten the process.
The people of the GP were told to build their toilets before October-19. Considering that most of them were from the economically backward families, Thakur was motivated to help them, to give them some incentive to build their toilets.
Himachal Pradesh had been competing at a national level to become ODF and Thakur was keen to help the State achieve its target. His gesture has been hailed and Himachal Pradesh was declared open defecation free on October 28, 2016. It was second, after Sikkim to have achieved the status with Kerala following closely.
When almost everyone was convinced to adhere to the time-line, one Sumer Chand of Bhadhana SC Basti of ward 7 from Kalatha village raised his voice of dissent. He said that being a labourer, he would like another month’s time to complete his toilet. But when he was told about low cost and simple toilet models, he agreed to complete his IHHL before the deadline.
Bhadhana Gram Panchayat is home to around 450 families of which 139 families had no toilets as per the baseline survey of 2012. Since then although 82 households had built toilets, the poorest of them – about 57 families still had no toilets.
Yet another magnanimous gesture was made by Anjali Tyagi correspondent of the local Daily Nahan in Sirmaur who donated Rs 30000 to the district administration for helping families of poor widow to construct toilets.