Inter-village cricket tournament in Bihar to promote Swachh Bharat campaign

Swachh Bharat campaign

A cricket match was recently organised at Manihari in Katihar (Bihar) to promote Swachh Bharat campaign. (HT photo)

Taking a leaf out of the popular, cash rich and eyeball catching Indian Premier League, the administration has hit upon an idea to organise an inter-village cricket tournament to help Katihar in the north eastern Bihar emerge as an open defecation free (ODF) district under the national Swachh Bharat campaign.

“We aim to organise the cricket tourney in the rural setting to spread the ODF message among the masses and emphasise why sanitation is important,” said Katihar district magistrate Mithilesh Kumar Mishra.

He said, “We are committed to making every village in the district open defecation free (ODF). We will be stepping on the gas this month to make our ‘Swachh Katihar campaign’ a reality”.

So, while, the real AB De Villiers and Virat Kohli join Chris Gayle in blasting cricket balls out of stadia in the IPL, their ‘equal numbers’ in the ‘Katihar cricket league’, will be swinging their bats to promote toilets within homes this season.

As part of the campaign, an exhibition cricket match was organised in Manihari town of the district on March 26, which was watched by 5,000 people. “Soon after the match, the DM explained to the people the disadvantages of open defecation,” said a player, Ravish Ranjan.

Giving a thumbs-up to the campaign of the district administration, Raju Rishi, 45, of Manihari mahadalit tola said, “Nobody wants to defecate in the open, but the means to preserve an individual’s dignity may not always be there”. Rishi, however, has resolved to build a toilet at his home within a month.

Statistics show 79% of Bihar homes have no toilet and Katihar is among the five districts at the bottom of the list, with over 80% people defecating in the open.

Bihar has targeted to meet 100% ODF coverage under chief minister Nitish Kumar’s ‘seven resolves’ by 2019. A toilet in every home by 2020 is also one of the main thrust areas of the central sanitation scheme under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

In Katihar, out of 238 panchayats, consisting of about 4.5 lakh households, seven have been declared open defecation free. They include four panchayats in Manihari, two in Amdabad and one in Barari.

As per rules, after a village is declared ODF, every household is to be paid Rs 12,000 against proof of toilet constructed as an incentive. “The incentive aims to encourage more people to construct their own toilets in their homes,” said Mukesh Pandey, district development commissioner (DDC) of Katihar.

Source: Aditya Nath Jha, HT