Bengaluru: Donning white caps and t-shirts splashed with the familiar Swachh Bharat logo, over 750 residents of Karnataka’s Chikkamagaluru district—a mix of students, zilla panchayat members, district officials, members of the state legislative council and common citizens—came together to disperse the simple message of ‘swachhta’ few days back.
Accompanied by a colourful band and a group of dancers, the rally which took place saw these enthusiastic citizens march from the district’s Taluk Office to the Kuvempu Kala Mandir, 1.5 kilometers away.
The idea was to support the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s aim of making all districts open defecation free and mobilise people to work towards this.
As of May 8, Chikkamagaluru has crossed the half-way mark to achieve this status with nearly 57 per cent of the district’s 996 villages being declared open defecation free, according to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation’s Swachh Bharat Mission. “The government has been working to implement the Swachh Bharat Mission’s objectives. It is time that the citizens support them. I know that a lot of people have stopped defecating in the open but many still do not know. Some people I personally know still go in the open! This is why we came together to spread awareness,” says Chandru, a resident of Mudigere who participated in the rally.
The rally was organised by the Zila Panchayat’s CEO, Dr. R. Ragapriya, to draw people’s attention to the importance of hygiene and why using a toilet was necessary for their own and their family’s health and dignity.
“We wanted to bring people together and make them more invested in hygiene and sanitation. We realised that we needed to reignite the momentum and reactivate all stakeholders to work towards becoming ODF and swachhta,” says Mr Vittal, Nodal Officer-Swachh Bharat Mission, Chikkamagaluru Zila Panchayat.
When it comes to individual household toilets, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation claims that 95.22 per cent households in Chikkamagaluru have toilets.
“Moving towards better sanitation is the need of the hour. It is not an easy task to realise these goals which means that everyone needs to participate with their full commitment. The great thing about this rally was that people came from different villages. This shows the positive commitment they have. We just hope to keep up the momentum now,” Mr Vittal says.
Chikkamagaluru aims to become open defecation free by October 2, 2017.