Constructing Toilets

Under the Government's Swachh Bharat Mission, a staggering 111 million toilets are being built at a cost of more than 1 trillion rupees (14 billion $). It is the largest toilet project in the world and is expected to dramatically improve the nation's health and economy.

When I was touring the nearby villages around Udaipur City with Government officials during my SVEEP activity to raise voting awareness and again during Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme, I had a chance to see a very different side of rural India which I was not exposed to earlier. After years of independence and efforts of the Government for upliftment of people and society, I was surprised to see how the tribal belt around Kaloda Village still suffered from age old open defecation practice. It was stubbornly endured as patriarchal Indian families objected to having latrines inside the house.

I met a girl named Manisha who said "Life is one big struggle. We go out in the dark either before sunrise or after sunset (in groups) and look for a place to go where no one could see us in that position". Then another girl Shanta added "There is often fear of assault, apart from the dangers of snake and poisonous insect bites". And the list of complaints went on. They shook me up literally and I could not sit still doing nothing for them. Here I must mention, when I joined JPIS, soon after in October, I heard about toilet projects taken up by my peers. I was encouraged by councilor Ayush Sir too which accelerated my plans for working on the project.

After discussing this with my parents, I reached out to corporates and asked for their support to build toilets in this area. I was lucky to get donations and was able to collect a sum of 2800 USD. In the meanwhile my father introduced me to a civil contractor and we finalized each toilet @ 900 USD. I went back to this Kaloda belt and marked some public places. One near Anganwadi, second at the bus stop and third where I was resisted the most, alongside a temple. But strong willed that I am, I did not give up. I convinced the Sarpanch and filed for approval at the Collector's office. Once accepted I ensured that the toilets were ready for use in 28 days. I handed over these toilets to the Panchayats on 26th January 2020. Just before the Covid quarantine when I went back to check on them, I was so happy to see the smiles on the faces of these villagers and the warmth and gratitude that enveloped me.