Forest Officer Built Nearly 500 Toilets In Kerala’s Tribal Colonies
Forest officer PG Sudha believes in working towards bettering one’s condition, not cribbing. The firebrand officer has made a difference in the lives of Kerala’s tribals by building 497 toilets in the state’s tribal colonies.
Undaunted by lack of facilities in the area where she is posted, Sudha took matters in her own hands. Today, the 52-year-old tribal officer has brought about a drastic change in the backward society.
Hailing from Ernakulam district, Sudha is famous in the area for her beat as forest officer. In the tribal colonies of the Kuttampuzha forest, she has built 497 toilets so far. Need we say more?
Sudha fights open defecation. When the authorities failed to provide proper toilets in a backward society as hers, she decided to get the work done herself
According to Sudha, when authorities invited tenders for constructing toilets, none of the contractors showed up. “It was hardly a year ago when Ernakulam district collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla entrusted the task to Sudha, a tribal from the same colony,” said Xavier T X, Kuttampuzha range officer, The New Indian Express reported.
The forest officer took up the Open Defecation-Free (ODF) campaign of the central government. “Though people here can afford a toilet, the colonies had none. That is because they are comfortable with open defecation,” Sudha explained.
“Secondly, construction of toilets is not an easy task, since bringing building materials from outside is a herculean task.”
From leaving early in the morning for patrolling to returning at sunset, Sudha has braved the odds. The officer, whose husband passed away 27 years ago, traverses through impenetrable forest each day. It’s a daily routine, braving the tough terrain and climate. She also keeps watch on the movement of wild animals and poachers.
“The biggest challenge was not the construction but actually transporting the materials. This is why everyone was reluctant to take up the job. These tribal colonies are remote, there are no proper roads to get to them. In fact, to reach some of these settlements one has to walk for 15 to 20 km because there aren’t any other means,” Sudha tells NDTV
“Life is tough in these tribal colonies, where facilities are minimal as compared to other parts of the area. One has to walk for three hours to reach the tribal settlements,” says Sudha, who won the state award from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for making the campaign a success, on November 1, 2016.
Sudha won her first award in 2006, when she was named the ‘Best Forest Official’ by the Kerala government. She completed the task with sheer hard work. “It was a daunting task,” Sudha says.
“A sum of Rs 15,400 had been set aside for constructing one toilet. But taking one load of rock pieces cost us Rs 3,000-4,000 even though the market price was only Rs 800.”
Feature Image Credit: The New Indian Express
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