Report by Pravuprasad Routray; Bhubaneswar: Manual scavenging has been banned in India under the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993. Unfortunately, after more than 65 years of independence, this degrading activity continues.
Recently, this practice was highlighted in the popular TV show Satyameva Jayate, hosted by Amir Khan. Another allied and unhygienic practice, especially in rural areas, is the practice of defecation in the open fields. It is very well known that almost 50% of Indians have to defecate out in the open. This is clearly de-humanising.
Vedanta Aluminium addressed this issue in its surrounding areas head-on by initiating the rural household toilet for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families who could not afford constructing it.
The village Brundamal, in the vicinity of Vedanta’s Jharsuguda Aluminium smelter, was chosen for this project under the PPP mode of sustainable development. Vedanta partnered Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) Department of Odisha, under District water and Sanitation Mission to take up this project. They provide the technical support and subsidy to the BPL families.
A crucial step taken, to ensure it success, was the formation of an all Women Self Help Group (SHG) consisting of 12 women that took the responsibility of ensuring individual toilets. Their primary objective was to motivate, sensitize and re-orient people regarding best hygiene practices and sanitation.
Around 500 families reside in Brundamal village along with migrant and floating population of industrial wage earners. So far, around 218 household toilets have been constructed. More importantly, people have conceived the concept of safe hygiene and sanitation and by the end of next year the entire village will be brought under this programme.