Kothali: A village sworn to sanitation

by

The New Indian Express

By Sangamesh Menasinakai

28th February 2011 10:48 AM

KOTHALI: The oath has been taken by not just Babagouda but all villagers of Kothali in Chikodi Taluk.

Yes, it is true that there is no open defecation in this village. Even the children

do not defecate in the open or throw waste around. The garbage is collected

in dustbins and given to the Panchayath vehicle. And the Panchayat is

collecting it and separating it into degradable and non-degradable wastes

and putting the degradable matter into the earthworm tank that produces fertilisers for agriculture and farmers in the village buy it at concessional

rates.

HURDLES ON THE WAY

The beginning was not smooth. The village panchayat and leaders faced many

hurdles in implementing the total sanitation campaign, which was inaugurated

by then CEO of Belgaum zilla panchayat, M E Shivalinga Murthy, in June 2006. Only 64 families out of 617 had toilets. Most villagers were could not afford to build toilets of their own.

Bank of India, Nippani, KVG Bank, Chikodi, Prathamika Krushi Pattina

Sahakari Bank Ltd Kothali-Kuppanavadi and Sri Gomtesh Co-op Credit Society Ltd Kothali came forward to provide financial assistance, but there was lack of awareness about sanitation.

The Panchayat had to impose a fine of Rs 100 on families that stuck to defecation in the open.

It collected Rs 6,100 during 2006-2007 as fine. The number of offenders drastically reduced to six in 2008. With 90 percent success in implementing sanitation, the village received the Nirmal Gram Puraskar in 2008.

HOW THEY DID IT

But the villagers were not happy because there were still 10 per cent cases

of open excretion. They sought police help through then zilla panchayat member

A L Patil and taluk panchayat Member Shashikala Kamate.

Area-wise Nirmala Gram Puraskar committees were constituted to watch

and prevent the practice of open excretion.

The panchayat also wrote letters to authorities of government employees

who hailed from the village and did not have toilets at home. They even succeeded in having their salaries held back until they allowed construction of

toilets.

It also stopped facilities like water, electricity and ration of the violators.

The tahsildar’s office stopped issuing certificates/documents to villagers who

were resisted having toilets in their homes on the insistence of the

Panchayat. Banks were requested to sanction any type of loan only after the

applicant produced a certificate from the panchayat stating that their home

had a toilet.

FACTORS THAT MOTIVATED THEM

There many factors that motivated the villagers to get involved in this campaign.

The Primary Health Centre records show that diseases caused by

water and air pollution were very common among the villagers.

Religion too played its role as 75 percent of the population were followers

of Jainism, which preached sanitation.

The village is a famous destination for Jain pilgrimage. Shri Shantigiri Tirth

is located on the hills near the village and Kothali is also the birthplace of

revered Jain Muni Acharya Deshbhushan Maharaj.

Many Jain saints also regularly visited the village. “If they saw any dirty

thing on the way, they will not consume anything for the whole day. This made

us think about sanitation,” said Sudashan Gouraj, librarian of the

Panchayat library.

The Zilla Panchayat of Belgaum organised many awareness programmes

and held street play, seminars and did home visits to convince people. Officials

like Shivalinga Murthy, Dr Ekroop Caur, Govindraju, Ravi Basarihalli, Arjun

Kadetti, Poornima Chavan and many others visited the village often

and convinced people to involve them in this campaign.

Now, all the 681 households in the village have toilets. Around 50 families are

using community toilets. The primary health centre records showed that hygiene

has improved in the village.

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