New Delhi: A woman from Madhya Pradesh, who left her marital home within days of her wedding to protest lack of toilet facilities, has been awarded Rs 5 lakh for her "bold" decision that compelled villagers to take up the issue in their area.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh handed over the Rs 5 lakh Sulabh Sanitation Award to Anita Bai Narre of Chichouli village of tribal dominated Betul district at a function organised by the social service organisation.
Praising Anita Bai Narre for her "revolutionary and bold act", Ramesh said she will be a sources of inspiration for every woman and also called for a social movement with greater participation of women to eradicate the practice of open defecation by 2022.
He said out of the 2.5 lakh villages in India, 25,000 are open defecation-free, and out of these, 9000 villages are in Maharashtra alone.
"I want people like Anita should become ambassador for sanitation. Every man and woman should take oath that they will give importance to sanitation," the Minister said after honouring the woman who was accompanied by her husband Shivram Narre of Bhimpur tehsil.
Despite repeated assurances by her in-laws and husband that toilets would be constructed soon, Anita had returned to her father's place sensing that there was no provision for lavatory in her new house.
This action forced her husband to construct a toilet in the house with the help of Gram Panchayat's grant.
Ramesh, who also holds the additional charge of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, said sincere efforts are being made to make every gram panchayat of the country open defecation free by 2022.
Speaking at the function, founder of Sulabh Sanitation Movement, Bideshwar Pathak said Narre's story is changing mindsets and "our sanitation drive is back on track."
"I have not thought of how to spend the money," Narre, who is doing her graduation, told reporters.