Mis­sion Bharti

COR­PO­RATE TRAIL­BLAZER BHARTI FOUN­DA­TION, LUD­HI­ANA, PUN­JAB

India Today - - SAFAIGIRI - —Asit Jolly

Ifeel so much health­ier,” says Pooja Rani a year af­ter the Bharti Foun­da­tion helped con­struct a toi­let in her small home in Lud­hi­ana’s Rohla vil­lage. Down the brick-lined lane in the poor­est quar­ter of the vil­lage, Ra­jwant Kaur, a grand­mother, is sim­i­larly ec­static. “There is ab­so­lutely no ten­sion now,” she says, re­call­ing the inces­sant ha­rass­ment poor women used to face—hav­ing to wait un­til it was dark enough to go out and re­lieve them­selves in fields fring­ing the vil­lage. And this at the risk of be­ing abused and of­ten be­ing chased away by farm own­ers. With 18 new toi­lets, Rohla is now open-defe­ca­tion-free (ODF). The happy story repli­cates it­self across 1,010 Lud­hi­ana district vil­lages and ur­ban slums where Bharti Foun­da­tion has con­structed about 18,000 toi­lets as part of the Satya Bharti Ab­hiyan—a rural san­i­ta­tion ini­tia­tive launched in 2014 tak­ing a cue from the PM’s Swachh Bharat Mis­sion. The project has ben­e­fit­ted close to 90,000 in­di­vid­u­als.

Nitin Sharma, who man­ages the Ab­hiyan project in Lud­hi­ana district, says much of the suc­cess is due to the ef­fi­cient toi­let de­sign. A WHOap­proved model, it uses min­i­mal wa­ter, and the leach pits don’t re­quire pe­ri­odic clean­ing. Left to de­grade for a pe­riod of two years af­ter it fills up, the con­tents can be later used as ma­nure. The suc­cess of the Satya Bharti Ab­hiyan is ev­i­dent across rural Lud­hi­ana, where happy lo­cals re­fer to it as the ‘Air­tel toi­let’. Pe­ri­odic field checks and feed­back from pan­chay­ats are re­port­ing over 98 per cent use. Lud­hi­ana is now Pun­jab’s first ODF district. Satya Bharti Ab­hiyan is be­ing ex­tended to rural Am­rit­sar, where the foun­da­tion will con­struct over 50,000 toi­lets.

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