Union Minister interacts with village leaders during Sarpanch Samvad

From being a nation in which about 60 per cent of people practicing open defecation lived, India became open defecation free (ODF) in a matter of 5 years.  That is indeed a matter of pride for the country, said Minister of Jal Shakti, Mr. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, adding that there is a lot more to be done to achieve Sampoorna Swachhata (total cleanliness).

The Minister said this during a virtual Sarpanch Samvad held on May 28, 2021, when he interacted with Sarpanches from across the country, keen to learn of their solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) activities that would contribute to visual cleanliness of the villages.  

“We have a massive task ahead of us to ensure cleanliness and health of villages,” he said appealing to village leaders to join hands to achieve this, while assuring them that the necessary support and funds are available.  He said that behaviour change communication and IEC are essential to keep the momentum going to become ODF Plus.

The Minister also enquired of the Sarpanches well-being and measures initiated by them to manage and curb the spread of Covid-19.

More than 12 Sarpanches from the States of Telangana, Sikkim, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim participated in the virtual meeting.

Also speaking on the occasion, Mr. Arun Baroka, Additional Secretary, DDWS welcomed the village heads, attributing the success of SBM-G Phase I to their tireless efforts.  “It is our duty to sustain ODF status and work towards effectively managing solid and liquid waste which are essential components of SBM Phase II,” he said.

What the Sarpanches said:

Sarpanch of Rangareddy in Telangana, Mr. G L Narsimha Reddy has been continually active in ODF Plus activities as also in covid management.  Having constructed IHHLs for all homes, the GP had also constructed toilets for economically backward families and a community sanitary complex (CSC) to cater to visitors.  These toilets are being used and well maintained.  The village has 4 committees to take care of sanitation, water, plantation, and solid waste management.  Since the onset of covid, the GP has employed workers to clean public spaces and sanitize them.  The Sarpanch has created various WhatsApp groups that he uses to convey important messages to the community.

Ms. Tosi Doma Bhutia, Sarpanch, North Sikkim:  The Lady Sarpanch is keen to make her village ODF Plus within a year.  While all households in the GP have toilets and individual soak pits, every village has community soak pits and CSCs that have a rural market centre attached to it that make them sustainable while taking care of O&M.  About SLWM, single use plastic has been banned across the State and SHGs have been trained in waste management and making of sanitary pads and masks.  Awareness on hygiene and sanitation is given in schools.

Ms. Sanjukta Padihari, Sarpanch of Nayagarh in Odisha has been highly active in solid waste management.   Having been trained in solid waste management, the Sarpanch has been involved in training of women in segregation of waste, with a view to making her village visually clean.  The women join in to clean the temple premises and canteen and the public toilets (maintained by the GP) and dispose of recyclable waste to junk dealers.  While tap connections have been given to all houses, the school and anganwadi centre, efforts are being made to build toilets for new households. During the pandemic, the school was converted into a quarantine centre which was sanitized regularly.  Covid guidelines issued by the District administration are being followed and food and medical aid is provided to those who are tested positive.

Mr. Rajesh Jangde, Sarpanch of Sehore in Madhya Pradesh said that their GP is committed to the making of a Sundar and Swachh Gaon.  In this regard, the GP had trained volunteers to visit homes and inform residents about segregation of waste, making compost from wet waste and the need to curb the use of plastics.  The karmacharis work hard to keep the village neat and tidy as many visitors pass through the village enroute to the resort.  When children in the GP dropout of schools, they are encouraged to return to complete their studies.

Mr. Ranosa Pratap Singh, Sarpanch, Jodhpur, Rajasthan:  During the pandemic, the GP formed a core committee that went door to door to conduct a survey, using an oximeter and see if anyone was infected.  Those found positive were home quarantined.  Visitors to the village too were asked to stay in the school that was made into a quarantine centre and medical assistance was provided.  In addition, as per the guidelines issued by the State, the GP has propagated covid safety protocols such as use of mask and sanitizer, and physical distancing.  The Sarpanch said that he was eager to get on with the ODF Plus activities.

The newly elected Sarpanch, Shri P Vamsi Krishna, from Anantapur of Andhra Pradesh has been tirelessly working for covid protection.  He is very proud to have been involved in the SBM-G campaign that is transforming the villages, serving as a source of inspiration for him in particular.  The GP is very actively working in SLWM having appointed green ambassadors to collect, segregate and treat/dispose off solid waste.  They would need to work extra hard for liquid waste management, given that the GP has an open drainage system.

Ms. Geeta Devi, Sarpanch, Jammu, J&K:  Having been recently trained on SLWM, the Sarpanch has plans to transform her village.  The Panchayat Ghat has samples of an IHHL, compost pit, and soak pit for people to understand their significance.  While making the village ODF has changed behaviour to some extent, with people getting accustomed to using their toilets, the Sarpanch is working to ensure that liquid waste is managed effectively, given the huge open drain in the village.  As far as solid waste is concerned, all households have been provided with separate bins for wet and dry waste and workers have been employed to collect the same and dispose of appropriately.  A 5-bed covid centre is operational in the village.

Shri Ranjit Singh Saddo, Sarpanch, Fatehgarh Saheb, Punjab:  Very active in SLWM works and during the covid period, the Sarpanch ensures that all SLWM works are carried out in the GP.  From waste collection to plastic waste management, the Sarpanch ensure that activities continue as per the guidelines issued by the District Administration.  The GP plans to build a CSC close to the public playground that sees large crowds every day.  Plans are in the pipeline to start Gobardhan and enjoy the benefits of biogas.

Ms. Arifa Jaan, Sarpanch, Baramulla, J&K:   The Sarpanch who was recently trained in SLWM admitted that covid has caused some lag in SLWM activities.  All homes have IHHLs, and people are using them.  To manage grey water, the Sarpanch has constructed soak pits in all homes and a few community soak pits, and the treated water is channeled into the fields.  Although very occupied in covid protocols now, the Sarpanch is keen to make her village ODF Plus soon.

Shri Padam Bahadur Chetri, Sarpanch, West Sikkim:  The GP has constructed one CSC for every 100 homes and has provided dustbins for all homes and set up huge colour-coded garbage bins at every street corner.  Situated close to tourist spots, the village sees many visitors who use the CSCs which are maintained as a pay and use model with workers assigned for regular cleaning.  All households have soak pits and sanitation workers take care of collection and disposal of waste.  All covid safety protocols are being observed in the village, thanks to the covid management committee formed.

Ms. Anita Ponnala, Sarpanch, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh:  Thanks to the Gram volunteer system each of whom are assigned to 60 households, waste management has been a success.  WhatsApp messages are sent to various groups with information and key messages.  The GP has 6 Green Ambassadors who collect segregated waste from households, the temple and business establishments and cart it to the waste management shed where it is disposed off appropriately.  Sanitation awareness is given priority in schools, anganwadis.  The GP needs to construct a CSC to cater to visitors of the temple and focus on liquid waste management, given that grey water currently flows down the open drains.  Covid protocols are announced via tomtom.

Ms. Swapna Borah, GP President, Bongaigaon, Assam:  The national awardee plans to make her village a model village with effective systems in place for waste segregation.  Now that the CSC has been completed, O&M is being managed by GP workers.  SHGs are trained to generate awareness on covid safety protocols as well as hygiene and sanitation.  To those found covid positive, rations, medicines and corona kits are provided.  The entire village is sanitized regularly.

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