Odisha: ODF cause through preaching and practice: Minority community leaders show the way

Bhubaneswar: He is neither a scientist nor a trained social worker to motivate common people, but with his seer interest for cleanliness and belief in a mission, Irshad Bhai, Quran-e-hafiz and teacher at the Urdu School Ibadat Gaha, in Shantipalli in Saheed Nagar, is all set to change the mindset of the slum dwellers through his preaching.
Irshad Bhai is not alone, many in their individual capacities as community leaders, have taken up the cause of cleanliness through ensuring an open defecation free (ODF) Bhubaneswar, and are contributing to the nation-building activities through motivating others with scientific reasoning and social messaging to convince their counterparts.
“Our religion tells us to remain clean, then how can we defecate in the open? Flies sit on the dirt and then fly to our places, sit on our food and even on our holy books. We should keep our surrounding clean by not defecating in the open. Many of us have toilets at home but go out to defecate. We should stop this as this is against our faith of remaining clean,’’declares Irshad Bhai.
He urged the community members gathered at the Friday “Namaz’’ to take oath against open defecation. Interestingly, all the community members replied “ameen’’ expressing their consent for the same. The community members have decided to regularly monitor cleanliness near the Kabristan in Satyanagar to stop open defecation in that periphery. Kabristan is the community graveyard of Muslims in the city.It may be mentioned here that with the open defecation the sacred Kabristan is also feeling threatened and thus there is a need to have an eye over the area to ensure to make that nearby areas ODF.
Many women members of the community are also volunteering as part of the NigraniCommittee and wake up at 4 am in mornings to persuade people not to go to defecate in the open. “As we all respect and love our wives, daughters and mothers we should make toilet facilities at our home so that they are not forced to take the shame of defecating in the open,’’ says Irshad Bhai.
Raza Khan, who was part of this Friday gathering at Shantipalli and runs a mobile store, said that many of the families in the “mohalla’’ had stopped the practice of OD.
Fifty- year-old Idrish Bhai, who is a regular at the morning follow-up to stop OD in the slum, said “almost 90% of the families in Shantipalli IV Slum in Saheed Nagar have now stopped going out for OD after this awareness drive. Few have space constraints to build individual house hold latrines, which the community is trying to sort out soon.’’
It may be noted here that under the Bhubaneswar Town Centre District (BTCD) area of the Smart City Project, around 24 slums are targeted to be made open defecation free (ODF) as part of a major initiative by the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL). Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited has engaged Feedback Foundation to make the entire BTCD area Open Defecation Free and the 24 slums in BTCD area spread over four wards i.e. Ward No. 30, 34, 41 and 53, are being targeted for ODF. The first success of the initiative came last week when Kalinga Basti in Bapuji Nagar became ODF within one month of initiating the awareness campaign.