Published On: Fri, Jul 24th, 2015

Two IAS officers maintain exemplary status on Swachh Bharat

New Delhi: IAS officers Rohini Sindhuri and K C Devasenapathi may have hit the headlines earlier for the wrong reasons but both of them are identified by the Centre as exemplary performers in executing Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

IAS officer Rohini Sindhuri said she sells the idea of toilets to women without linking them to hygiene but to self-respect and necessity.

IAS officer Rohini Sindhuri said she sells the idea of toilets to women without linking them to hygiene but to self-respect and necessity.

Sindhuri, saw her name being dragged into the alleged suicide of Karnataka IAS officer D K Ravi when it was reported that he had sent several messages to her phone before his death.

Dantewada collector Devasenapathi, on the other hand, was given a warning for not being dressed in “formal attire” when Prime Minister Modi visited the Maoist-affected district in May.

But this didn’t stop the two IAS officers from excelling at the central mission for cleanliness. “To make people listen to you, you have to listen to them,” Devasenapathi told ET over the phone.

The 34-year-old officer, who hails from Tamil Nadu, is busy travelling over 200 km on practically non-existent roads to the district, ensuring that the mobile ‘swacch vans’ he has designed with water jets and automated cleaners are taken to all 70 schools in the area to clean the toilets.

The pace of building toilets, key to ending the problem of open defecation, is slower in the states affected by Left-wing extremism, but Devasenapathi is among the few people who have managed to put the project on track, according to officials. “There are several challenges here but health and hygiene of people, especially children, is foremost priority. We are just trying,” he said. What has also worked is the concept of ‘swachhta chaupals’ that collectors such as Devasenapathi have started, involving the villagers to encourage the building and usage of toilets by holding frequent talks for them.

The ministry of drinking water and sanitation is in the process of identifying the best movers of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, district collectors who are relentlessly using innovating ideas and persistent ways to drive home the message of sanitation in the country’s darkest districts. For another one in the list, Sindhuri, the CEO of Mandya Zila Panchayat, Swachh Bharat was all about convincing people in the sugar belt that “sugar cane crops were not a natural barrier to open defecation”.

“In Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the sarpanch can tell villagers he won’t step into houses without toilets and use that to encourage toilet usage but these tricks won’t work in most places in South India. These places are more individualistic,” said Sindhuri, talking passionately about her efforts to strengthen sanitation programmes in Mandya in Karnataka. Sindhuri said she sells the idea of toilets to women without linking them to hygiene but to self-respect and necessity.

“Gram panchayats were totally against the idea of toilets. Last year a woman was attacked by a dog, and a minor girl raped in this area when they ventured out at night to defecate. No woman wants to put her life to multiple risks every day,” she said.

Inputs with ET

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