A walk down memory lane of Punjab’s Aloona Tola

Situated in Khanna Block of Ludhiana District, Aloona Tola village has transformed into becoming one of the cleanest villages in Punjab, its journey impressive owing to dynamic leadership and support of the community.

With 250 households and a population of around 1250, the village spread across 330 hectares is an agricultural village with a few engaged in small businesses and government jobs.  All indications point to the village being declared ODF Plus soon.

ODF Declaration:  To begin with, many of the residents of the village were educated and their households had toilets, except for 11 families.  Post intensive IEC and behaviour change campaigns during Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) Phase I, people were made aware of the ill effects of open defecation and the importance of safe sanitation practices.  Soon as the balance toilets were constructed the village was declared ODF in October 2016, even as efforts continued to promote and sustain 100 per cent usage of toilets by all members of the families.  Thereafter to encourage general welfare and development of the village, the GP collaborated with the Round Glass Foundation to carry out development activities.

Transformation into a beautiful hamlet: ‘Paint for Punjab’ was a unique campaign initiated by the Round Glass Foundation to inspire people to care and support each other.  While contributing to the beautification of the village, the initiative was aimed at providing the community with a fresh perspective to life and at the same time instil hope.  It began when a group of around 90 artists from the US, Germany and France stayed in the village for six months and worked side by side to capture the essence, traditions, hopes, and dreams of the village, inscribing the same on the walls and buildings of the village.  This completely transformed the village into a colourful hamlet and motivated the residents to adopt ideal ways of living.

The most glaring example of this initiative is the artwork adorning the facades of the 250-odd households and other public buildings in the village, attracting eyeballs ever since it was launched.  The new look has attracted many visitors from other villages who have applauded the efforts of the Gram Panchayat.  

“The artists came to our village, stayed with us and put in so much effort to beautify our village that even after so many years we do not want to destroy the paintings,” a resident said, recalling the days of yore.

Rural women entrepreneurship:  To provide women alternative livelihoods, the Panchayat encouraged the Nari Shakti Self Help Group to establish a sanitary pad manufacturing unit.   Having been formally trained by the associates of the Round Glass Foundation in the process of making sanitary pads, sterilization, and packaging of the same, the GP provided them space to work. The SHG members promoted their product through door-to-door visits to the households, while insisting that shop sell their products – at Rs. 30 for a pack of 8. Best of all, the initiative empowered the rural women, and the last order was for 40,000 packets for the middle and high schools of nearby villages. Each of the SHG members gained a profit of approximately Rs. 10,000.

Government School get a digital system:  Other than adorning the village walls and government high school with artwork, the visiting artists set up a Self-Organised Learning Environment (SOLE) laboratory in the village middle school where students can learn in a unique way.  The lab which is functional six days a week comprises six computers and a TV.   Students are randomly asked questions and encouraged to find their answers and context using the internet on skype.  The process of seeking answers by themselves, enhances their learning since they look up a diverse range of topics.

Moving towards ODF Plus:

Solid Waste Management:  Given that the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation allocated Rs 2.97 crore for setting up solid waste management plants in 45 villages in Doraha Block under Payal Constituency, the GP of the village decided to grasp the opportunity and approached the Block Development Programme Officer to set up a solid waste management plant in the village.

After carrying out awareness activities the Round Glass Foundation motivated the community to segregate dry and wet waste at household level.  All the 250 households were provided with 2 dustbins each of blue and green colours.  A waste collector was appointed and formally trained in door-to-door collection of waste and transporting the same to the SWM plant where the dry waste was to be disposed of and the wet waste converted into organic manure.  This has eliminated squabbles over dumping of waste on roadsides, while increasing the revenue of the panchayat, cleaning up of the environment including ponds and drains.

Sarpanch Sh. Laldin: This project has benefitted women who can now channelize their energies on constructive work rather than spending hours carrying garbage to distant dumping spots.  The manure generated is sold to the Forest and Horticulture Department.  

Liquid Waste Management:  To efficiently manage liquid waste from households that made ponds filthy, the GP has set up a sewerage system using MNREGA and Finance Commission Grants.

Inputs: Abhishek Hamilton, IEC Specialist, Ludhiana and Sevya Sharma, Community Development Specialist, DWSS Punjab.

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