People’s participation was a hallmark of the Gandagi Mukt Bharat, a weeklong campaign held across Punjab as the rest of the country from 8th to 15th August 2020. The objective of the campaign held under the aegis of the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation Punjab was to promote positive behaviour change on safe sanitation and personal hygiene among rural citizens.
According to Mr. Sarbjit Singh, Sub Divisional Engineer (Sanitation), thousands of people were mobilised during the campaign to clean up villages, collect plastic waste and plant saplings for a Swachh and Swasth Punjab. Here are details of activities during each day of the campaign:
E-Ratri Choupal: As many as 3533 Sarpanchs attended the E-Rathri Chaupal when Deputy Commissioners and other Government officers interacted with Sarpanches on virtual platforms about the weeklong campaign and components required for the declaration of ODF Plus villages. Special emphasis was given to hygiene and safe sanitation, particularly measures such as frequent handwashing with soap and social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Collection and segregation of SUPs: Day 2 of the campaign featured sanitation walks in the villages led by Sarpanchs with the support of volunteers from the GPs, SHGs and Youth Clubs. Divided into teams, they walked through the villages, collecting Single-Use Plastic (SUP) waste items. On completion of the activity, the villages looked noticeably cleaner, motivating people to maintain the same in the future. A total of 3200 villages participated in the activity, that resulted in the collection of 14,154 kgs of waste, 5677 kgs of plastic waste and 5619 kgs of SUPs. In addition, there were 288 rallies and 1878 door-to-door visits.
Shramdaan for cleaning, whitewashing of public buildings: Many citizens participated in the shramdaan to clean up the streets and public buildings. The exercise gave them a sense of ownership and responsibility towards public buildings. About 10479 individuals from 2407 villages participated in the cleaning activity to spruce up 1061 public buildings.
IEC messages on ODF Plus: About 334 wall paintings featuring 5 key IEC messages on ODF Plus were painted in 126 villages during the campaign. The 6X4 feet messages in the local language are expected to reinforce the message of safe sanitation to the community.
Tree Plantation: Almost 30,000 saplings were planted by 17,338 volunteers in 4281 villages on 12th August. Understanding the importance of trees for the environment, people committed to caring for the plants in the future.
Online painting and Essay writing competition: On August 13, 2020, students from all districts of classes 6-8 participated in a painting competition while students of classes 9-12 in an essay writing competition on the theme ‘Gandagi Mukt Meragaon.’ Students enthusiastically participated, showcasing their talents and concerns on swachhata through their entries. They were awarded cash prizes and appreciation certificates.
Cleanliness and Sanitation drive in PHCs: Volunteers from the Panchayats, Youth Clubs, women’s groups, and Primary Health Centres participated in sanitising Primary Health Centres in their villages on 14th August. Shramdaan was carried out by 3125 volunteers in 855 PHCs of 1243 villages.
Independence Day celebrations: Aam Sabhas were held in all villages for flag hoisting on 15th August and the best performing villages were felicitated. Discussions were held on ways to become ODF Plus. The best performing village in Gandagi Mukt Bharat Campaign from each district was felicitated with a certificate and cash prize of Rs.20,000. The award money will be utilized by the Gram Panchayat for sanitation-related activities such as the construction of community compost pit, plastic storage unit, installation of dustbins and wall paintings with ODF Plus messages.