The central district of Perambalur in Tamil Nadu had set an ambitious target to build 6,000 individual household toilets including 100 Ecosan toilets in 48 hours beginning on 13th February at 7 AM and ending at the same time on 15th February.
The District Collector, Mr. K. Nandhakumar, inaugurated the campaign that was carried out across all the four blocks and 121 gram panchayats of the district on 13th February.
However, the campaign in mission mode saw the successful completion of just 4,666 toilets – Perambalur Block: 800; Veppanthattai Block: 1100; Alathur Block: 1500; and Veppur Block: 1266. Although they fell short of the target range, it was indeed a remarkable achievement.
“As many as 113 link officers from District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Block Development Office (BDO), Panchayat Secretaries and over 1000 masons and 1000 helpers had been put on the job,” said District Project Coordinator (Swachh Bharat Mission), Raja Bhoopathi.
According to Project Director, A. R. Sivaraman, each mason has been assigned the task of completing four toilets and all work pertaining to them including, plastering, construction of chambers, connecting leach pits, fixing sanitary pans, etc.
He said that when work started on 13th February, the community was initially curious. Gradually, there was a change in attitude and momentum picked up as they cooperated and participated by fetching water, transporting material and helping in small ways.
Preparations for this mission mode of constructing toilets were made a month in advance. Masons were trained in every block and all necessary material was gathered and kept in place, he said. These included sanitary pans, hollow bricks, fly ask, sand, 30,000 cement bags, 40MM metals tubes, cement rings for leach pits, junction chamber covers, cover slabs for leach pits, roofing sheets with angle and screws for fittings.
Several meetings at District, Block and village levels were also organised, ahead of the campaign. The district level meetings saw the participation of all district officials in the Rural Development Department including technical experts, engineers, overseers, road inspectors and relevant civil work staff. As for the block level meetings, they included panchayat secretaries, staff from National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), members of Self Help Groups (SHGs), Panchayat level federations, Village Poverty Reduction Committees (VPRC), social motivators from community based organization (CBOs) and the youth.
Besides, there were 2-3 meetings at village level during which selection of site, procurement of material and building awareness among communities was done. The district administration provided all manner of support as well free sand for the entire operation.
Agents of Social Change
Considering that students and teachers are exceptional agents of social change, many awareness programmes were also held at all schools of the district so that the message of good sanitation practices could be passed on from teacher to child and child to parent. It also provided an opportunity to collect data on students’ homes without toilets. Also, schools conducted various rallies, drawing and essay competitions on Swachh Bharat Mission.
Currently, Perambalur enjoys toilet coverage of 76%. Of the 39,000 pending toilets that are yet to be built, 4666 were completed on 15th February, including 100 Ecosan toilets with funding support from Indian Oil Corporation. The balance 34,340 toilets will be completed by 31st March 2017, as per the district’s target.