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SMART Kolakudi is open defecation-free
Trichy: Out of the 404 panchayats in the district, around 341 panchayats have achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, and the remaining 63 panchayats are in the process of becoming ODF, before 2018 as planned by district administration.
As several constraints were cited in the process of making villages ODF including absence of behavioural change, a joint initiative by Kolakudi panchayat through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), and a Trichy-based NGO has earned 100% percent ODF tag for a panchayat near Thottiyam. Unlike other panchayats, a cost-effective toilet model named SMART (Safe/Sustainable, Maintainable, Affordable, Recyclable, and Technical) toilet equipped with incinerator and waste recycling process grabbed the attention of residents and subsequently 1,725 toilets were established in the panchayat within a year.
According to the Kolakudi panchayat and Gramalaya, an NGO that implemented the project, Association of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (AWASH) was formed in each village before commencing the process. A panchayat representative was appointed as president of the committee and an association comprising 10 men and 10 women was handed up to Rs 18,000 per toilet as funds. The AWASH committee met once a month and discussed time frame for construction and purchase of materials required as a part of the Rs 3.71 crore project. "As per the government norms and choice of the families, it was decided to construct the twin pits toilet with a junction chamber. If one of the twin pits was filled (minimum 5 years), diversion chamber would re-route incoming sewage to the other pit. After a year, the filled pit can be opened, and the sludge deposited can be used as manure," S Damodaran, Founder, Gramalaya said.
The SMART toilet also has an option to install incinerator for eliminating the sanitary pads which can clog the sewage lines if dumped in toilets. Coordinators of the project said that 1,725 toilets were established through the CSR funding of HT Parekh Foundation and Bank of America- Merrill Lynch Capital.