Odisha: Social change makers in BTCD area come as messiah for ODF initiative

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Bhubaneswar: Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Vidya Balan, Anupam Kher, Kareena and Saif Ali Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Sonam Kapoor and Tamanna Bhatia and Ollywood stars Archita, Sabyasachi and sand art exponent Sudarshan Patnaik may be big names who have made marks during the Swachh Bharat Mission drive, but here in the Temple City, we have lesser known social change makers, who have done great work towards keeping the urban localities cleaner.

Under the Bhubaneswar Town Centre District (BTCD) area of the Smart City Project, slums are targeted to be made open defecation free (ODF) as part of a major initiative by the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL).

During the process of the campaign for making the area ODF citizen groups and individuals have contributed a lot by motivating people and fellow slum dwellers to make the cleanliness dream possible and to make Bhubaneswar free from open defecation.

However, to make the people understand the seriousness of the topic and make a sustainable monitoring process, Nigrani Committees (surveillance squads) and Banar Sena (children’s teams) are on job to make people aware and also pursue the slum residents not to defecate in the open and ensure hygiene.

Both the groups have become successful in motivating people of several slums in BTCD area to stop OD activities. The groups are after the slum dwellers monitoring their activities both during morning and evening and at times stopping them when the volunteers find the people on their way to pollute their surroundings.

Apart from these group-based activities, individuals on their personal capacities are also contributing towards the cleanliness cause and inspiring people to have toilets of their own.

Pramila Patra (70) a woman beggar of Kathagola Basti in Bapuji Nagar has inspired other slum dwellers by constructing her own toilet. “Pramila has given a very interesting message to her neighbourhood as the people have started thinking that if, being a common person she could, why not I be the next game changer!’’ said local councillor of Bapuji Nagar Mahamaya Swain.

In another interesting event, a daughter-in-law Banita Naik in Kathagola Basti of Bapuji Nagar has gone a step forward by helping through her physical labour to construct a toilet even when her husband was passively interested towards the proposal. Her mother-in-law Sasmita Naik is now all praises for her daughter-in-law as the latter has set a new trend in contributing her leadership role towards making a cleaner city.

The Feedback Foundation, engaged by BSCL has taken up the ODF target. The entire BTCD area is being targeted for ODF. All 24 slums in BTCD area are being targeted for ODF. They have nearly done so in Kathagola Basti and Kalinga Basti. These 24 slums spread over four wards i.e. Ward No. 30, 34, 41 and 53. Both Kathagola Basti and Kalinga Basti fall under Ward No. 53. Today, Feedback Foundation along with officials of the BSCL conducted a cleanliness drive in Birsa Munda slum 1 under Ward No. 30 in Sahid Nagar.

“Recently tragic death of a private security personnel was reported on the railway tracks along the Satyanagar area as the person went there to defecate in the open. There is a need for the employer of such persons to motivate the employees to construct toilets so that they would not go to the open and face death,’’ said Saswati Mishra, councillor of Sahid Nagar area.

“By declaring all Smart City slums ODF, BSCL will be doing a smart job in making the BTCD area a role model for others to follow within the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation limits. We hope we will be able to do it in near future and set a trend in cleanliness drive in the city,’’ said a senior BSCL official.

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