PATNA: Even as Bihar’s Rs 15-crore toilet scam has roiled the state politics, a Dalit woman in a village near Patna has set an example by selling her mangalsutra to build a toilet at her home, an act that has turned her into a local role model.
Runki Devi, 48, was fed up with the rebuke she received from her husband, Parsuram Paswan, every time she asked him to get a toilet built in their house at Varuna village in Fatuha block. Annoyed that the government’s push for making villages districts open defecation free (ODF) had not enthused her husband, she sold her mangalsutra to fund the construction of toilet.
The sale of the gold-studded necklace fetched her only Rs 9,000, which she found inadequate for constructing a “decent toilet”. So, she sold her gold earrings as well and got Rs 4,000 more. She then got a toilet built.
“My husband was perplexed when he saw people bringing bricks, cement and sand to my house. He was also annoyed when he learnt that I had sold my mangalsutra and was getting a toilet built. But he was soon okay with it and helped in the construction,” said Runki. Her two young daughters were also happy to have a toilet at home. “All of us will no longer have to go outside to answer the call of nature,” said a visibly elated Runki.
When the villagers learnt about the development, they were full of praise for her. “This is an exemplary act by an unassuming village woman and it sends out a positive social message,” said Fatuha BDO Rakesh Kumar. At a programme of women associated self-help groups organised at Budhebachak village on World Toilet Day on Sunday, the BDO felicitated Runki by presenting her a shawl. He also said that the district administration could recommend her name for state-level recognition.
Now that her sacrifice has received official recognition, Runki hopes the government will reimbursed her under an ongoing scheme.