An open defecation-free (ODF) Garo village in Goalpara district of Assam is not only the state’s cleanest village, but also is a place where no one consumes alcohol, drugs or smoke and it has never witnessed any crime in at least past 17 years, which  is not only a model for the state but for the entire country.

Rangsapara,  Assam’s cleanest village, has started its work to be a clean and peaceful place in 1999, said Roberth John Momin, Village Head, who is part of this since the very starting.

The village has also taken a pledge to be plastic- free from this month and is also planning to become the first village in the country with a cashless economy, he said.

“The arrival of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin was a blessing for the place.  The mission came to the block in the year 2014 and with its help and efforts of public health engineering department (PHED) the villagers began to have pucca toilets, which was previously only kutcha,” said  J V N Subramanyam, Deputy Commissioner

Rangchapara was declared the cleanest village in the state for the year 2016-17 by the public health engineering department (PHED) last month and also received a sum of five lakh rupees in form of the award by the CM Sarbananda Sonowal.IMG_20170215_141033483_BURST000_COVER_TOP

The village was selected by  Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development – a third party which examined every village in every district on the basis of criteria including attempts to become ODF, pucca toilets and their condition, attempts to promote awareness on cleanliness amongst others.

“It was in the year 1999 when the village people began talking about cleanliness and in 2000, we formed a 10-member committee, which was headed by me,” said Momin.

“The committee has taken four resolutions – to be a peaceful and united village, to be a clean village, every household should have toilets and availability of clean drinking water for all,” he said.

The village with 88 households – all Christians – since the formation of the committee did not see any case of open defection, violence or anyone consuming drugs, alcohol or smoking.

The village with 88 households – all Christians – since the formation of the committee did not see any case of open defection, violence or anyone consuming drugs, alcohol or smoking.“We have imposed a fine of Rs 5001 if anyone found not following our resolutions, but the best part of our steps is that the fine was never imposed on anyone,” said Momin.

“We have imposed a fine of Rs 5001 if anyone found not following our resolutions, but the best part of our steps is that the fine was never imposed on anyone,” said Momin.img_20170215_113854202_hdr

Villager’s intention was to make the village clean, this intention will also bring fame and award was a surprise to them.

“The villagers had no idea that they can even be cleanest in the district, but they were found to be cleanest in the state,” said Abdul Mozid, Senior Block Development Officer, Balijana Block.

“The village is never affected by the conflicts in the area; they live peacefully and with unity,” said Mozid.

“The village is never affected by the conflicts in the area; they live peacefully and with unity,” said Mozid.

“The villagers also have proper waste management. You can find a dustbin after every few steps and they dispose of biodegradable and non- biodegradable waste accordingly,” he said.

The village has two schools – one primary and another middle. The people are neither very rich nor are highly educated. The muddy road which connects the village to the district is also not in a very good condition and the 108 ambulance refuses to ply in the village.

img_20170215_133631986
Village’s Lower Primary

“We have been demanding for the money since 2014, but no money has been granted. It is a very serious problem,” said Ratna Nath, Panchyat President Balijana Block.

The steps to be the cleanest village has not only helped the villagers to get the award but has also reduced the number of children falling ill in a population of 475.

“People are now connecting health with cleanliness, which has also helped in reducing the number of diarrhoea cases to half. The village is a perfect example of what people and government together can do,” Subramanyam said.

“The village is now a brand and is helping in bringing changes in the nearby villages. People began to follow its path to not only be clean, but healthy as well,” he said.

The main profession in the village is agriculture, and only seven people are in government jobs. Most of the houses are kutcha, but with the help of the Indira Awas Yojana, they began to have a plastered house made of bricks.IMG_20170215_132809375

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