New Delhi: A novel scheme is driving social change in some districts of Madhya Pradesh. To be eligible for marriage under a state government scheme that provides financial assistance and gifts to the couple, grooms-to-be are posing for pictures standing next to toilets!
People wanting to derive the benefits of the scheme are also allowed to submit their applications along with affidavits stating that they will get a toilet installed within a month of marriage.
Eligible couples receive financial assistance and gifts worth 15,000 rupees (Dh968) under the Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojana (MKY).
The district collector of Sehore, Kavindra Kiyavat told Gulf News: “The scheme, introduced on April 1 has been a huge success. By linking a marriage scheme to a sanitation campaign, the government has created an atmosphere where people have begun to understand the concept of privacy as well as hygiene. The aim is to ensure that the dignity of women is protected.”
Data from the latest census in the state shows that 68 per cent of households in Sehore neither have the facility of public toilets, nor do they have toilets at home. But according to the district officer, the younger generation is now pushing for a change.
It all began in 2012 when a young bride, Anita Narre, walked out of her husband’s home on finding that there was no toilet in the house. An act unheard of in the conservative region, Narre’s courage won her appreciation and awards from women activists and organisations. Ever since, other young women too have begun demanding such basic amenities.
“Some men do not like posing with the toilets, so we accept applications with their passport size photo and a separate picture of the toilet,” Kiyavat said.
Initially, some unscrupulous people sent forged pictures to claim the financial assistance, but the department has smartened up. The official said that authorities have begun verifying facts before sanctioning the money to couples.
A newly married man admitted: “My father had forced me to send a photo of the bathroom in the house. But I did not want to cheat my wife and, after marriage, compelled him to get a toilet constructed.”
Under the MKY scheme, every year, the federal rural development ministry gives aid to state governments for sanitary infrastructure in rural areas. But even though the scheme provides 90 per cent subsidy for constructing a toilet at home, not many people came forward with genuine interest until recently.