Moving beyond just building toilets

04 Dec 2019

“Sanitation is a vast subject; it’s not just about toilets,” says the young and energetic Sarpanch of Janla panchayat in Jatani block of Khorda district in Odisha, who has many dreams for his community.

An MBA degree holder, Pradosh Kumar Jena (32) left his well paid corporate job in Delhi to return to his village and contribute to its development.

Fortunately, he was elected Sarpanch and that provided the opportunity for him to initiate development work.  He had always been troubled by the pathetic condition of the village roads, the poor sanitation conditions and the unhygienic practices followed by the people in his panchayat.  The Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) campaign when it started seemed an answer to his prayers.  He cheerfully lent his support to the District Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM) team and the Block Development Office (BDO).

The young Sarpanch played a major role in ensuring 100% construction of individual household latrines (IHHL) in homes of all SBM-G beneficiaries.  Thereafter, he consistently motivated people to use them.  Change was gradual and with the support of DWSM who carried out various IEC activities, the panchayat was declared ODF on 15th August, 2018.

In the course of his work, Pradosh visited Bhubaneswar, the state capital frequently.  He was very impressed seeing the clean roads and systems for household waste collection.  Longing to see the same in his village, he bought 3 vehicles for waste collection and engaged 3 individuals for a remuneration of Rs. 6000 per month using funds from the 14th Central Finance Commission (CFC) to collect waste from all homes in the panchayat.

If you enter Janla in the mornings you will come across three waste collectors with their vehicles cleaning the roads.  On hearing their whistles, residents come out of their homes to give them their waste.  While in summers the waste collectors work from 6 AM to 12 PM, during the remaining seasons they work from 7 AM to 1 PM, their work personally supervised by Pradosh himself.   The result is a clean village.

Commenting on their efforts, “This is just the beginning. It is not just about building and using toilets.  Sanitation is a vast subject and I have plenty to do for my panchayat. I am thinking of ways to use the collected waste, so that it does not harm the environment,” Pradosh said.

Source:  Namita Dash, District IEC Consultant

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