SAPTARI, Dec 26: Preparations are in full swing in Ramanagar, Kodarkatti village of Saptari to declare the village an Open Defecation Free (ODF) zone before December 29. Residents have sped up the 'one home, one toilet campaign' in the recent days to meet the deadline.
Lack of awareness and differences in political ideologies are making the campaign challenging though. When people in other parts of the world are busy making plans to explore other planets, this village is yet to be touched by a blacktopped road. Locals here are living a miserable life in absence of health, education, electricity and other facilities. This village falls under ward 5 of Balan Bihul Rural Municipality.
After continuous pressure from the newly elected representatives, media persons and local activists to construct toilets, locals have started constructing toilets at their homes. Every year, a large number of Dalits and destitute are rendered homeless by the flood in Kodarkatti.
It has been more than a decade since the authorities fixed electric poles in the village but the locals are still reeling under darkness. "We thought we will be able to draw the attention of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) after fixing the poles but we failed to do so," laments Ramhari Sada, a local youth.
"Our village is more conservative than other traditional villages of tarai due to illiteracy. This, in turn, is affecting our campaign," said Bindeshwar Yadav, newly elected chief of the ward. The negligence of the past governments toward the dire situation of the village has further disappointed the people here. Yadav informed that only 17% houses in Kodakatti had toilets when he was elected but now around 40% of them have toilets.
"This was possible within a span of four months," Yadav said. It might be hard for some to believe but even the local representatives, lawmakers, teachers, police and other government officials living here don't have toilets at their homes.
Efforts have been made to declare the whole of Saptari as ODF zone by the end of 2017. Despite poverty, locals have taken this campaign positively, according to the elected representatives. They have been provided with loans of Rs 10,000 for constructing toilets, informed ward chief Yadav.
Pashupati Yadav, a local leader of CPN (Maoist Center), claims that Kodarkatti will be declared as ODF zone before 2018 no matter what. "We are all determined to make our village neat and clean and we are hopeful that we will be successful," Maoist leader Yadav said.