While Mulkhed village in the Mulshi taluka may be lagging behind in the usage of newly constructed toilet blocks, Zilla Parishad school there prefers to call its toilet block constructed with corporate help as Arogya Mandir.
The primary school, which has over 100 children up to Class VII, lays emphasis on health and sanitation in children’s education.
“We call our children messengers of cleanliness. We called the toilet block Arogya Mandir as we wanted to make aware the children and their family members of the importance of having a clean toilet block and sanitation,” says Ravindra Chaudhari, the principal of the school which was built about two years back and which boasts of latest e-learning techniques.
The school has special staff to clean the toilet blocks which have separate entries for boys and girls.
“We ask the children to talk to their parents and get feedback on sanitation measures. We even distributed handwash in school. Good water supply is ensured in toilet blocks. We also educate the children and their parents through short films,” says the principal.
In Bhugaon village, the gram panchayat has distributed free toilet seats to ensure there are no houses without toilets. “All the toilet blocks are numbered. We achieved the Nirmal Gram or the ODF status in 2009 itself. For the last seven years, the task is to ensure people use the toilets,” says Sujata Kamble, a member of the gram panchayat.
According to Gram Sevak Sunil Darekar, Bhugaon has a population of 5,995 and every household has a toilet. “From 2009 to 2016, there have been regular checks to ensure that every household in the village has a toilet. The gram panchayat distributes the toilet seat while house construction cost is borne by the owner. This made it easier for us to achieve the target,” says Darekar. Women self-help groups are also active in the area in spreading awareness on sanitation.
In Bhare village in the same taluka, there is at least one toilet block for two families if there is lack of space. Satish Vawale, sarpanch of Bhare village, says they made a lot of efforts to achieve the ODF status, including forming a morning squad to fine squatters.