In Ira village of Karnataka's Bantwal taluk, cleanliness is being proved to be next to godliness. Here sanitation and cleanliness are the buzzword for the 1231 odd families who live here.
Surpassing the civic sense of many cities, the villagers of Ira seem to have hygiene deeply engrained in every fiber of them. In addition, they seem determined to limit the use of plastics.
The urge to implement total sanitation has even brought a 20-member International Learning Exchange Team from the UNICEF to Ira, to witness the phenomenon for themselves. Says Keshav Kottari, president of School Development and Monitoring Committee: "This zeal for cleanliness is not limited to bits and pieces of paper. The village has taken a conscious decision to limit the use of plastics."
Kishore Shetty, a villager, referring to the "plastic mountain" in the village, says: "All the plastic waste in the village is kept in this mountain. "Contractors from Bangalore buy this and use the same in preparing better grade bitumen there", he adds proudly.
Renu Gera, programme officer (water and sanitation), the United Nations Children's Fund, Hyderabad reports : "Although India was once a laughing stock for other nations, various government programmes, including total sanitation campaign undertaken by the Ministry of Rural Development, aimed at ameliorating rural poverty and improving sanitary conditions, have resulted in considerable improvement in living conditions".
Ms. Renu adds that the sanitation index of Karnataka, which was a poor two per cent when the campaign was launched in 2004, is now a healthy 38 per cent. Although this is lower than the national average of 45 per cent, it is a positive achievement, she adds.