Akshay wanted to have a look at how Dr Bindeshwar Pathak is alleviating sanitation and energy problems
It was meeting of two legends. One is a reel-life hero and other a real life hero. But both have only one agenda – nation building, development and nationalism. One is Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar and the other is Sulabh International chief Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak. Reason for the meeting was simple – Akshay wanted to know how Dr Pathak is changing the world by providing personal hygiene and sanitation solution to everyone. To know in depth Akshay visited the sprawling Sulabh International Campus in Dwarka, New Delhi.
Another reason for the dashing actor’s visit to Sulabh is his soon to be released film ‘Toilet- a love story’. The film reveals the difficulties of defecation in open areas. The film revolves around the pay and use toilet scheme in which the main protagonists want to put an end to open defecation. In addition to this theme, the film is about a love story.
Akshay Kumar has always been interested in finding solution to open defecation problem and wanted to find a solution for it. On the other hand, Sulabh International Complex is a place which offers solutions to all the problems related to sanitation. Dr Pathak has prepared a blueprint of the same.
This is why he came to meet Dr. Pathak. Akshay met all the groups of the Sulabh family and discussed various issues concerning the problems of open defecation with them.
The moment Akshay arrived in the Sulabh Campus and stepped out of the car, he was greeted by the loud whistles of his fans, who had been waiting for him on the top of neighbourhood buildings. Dr. Pathak welcomed him with a garland of roses. Mrs. Pathak gifted him a shawl.
Under the flashing lights of cameras and videos, Akshay was introduced to the widows who had come from Vrindavan. Dr. Pathak informed him how the colourless life of these widows was filled with colour by the Sulabh Organization. Akshay was very happy to learn that these widows now not only celebrate festivals like Holi and Diwali, but have also walked the ramp. Dr. Pathak said that they also create handicrafts which are sold at Sulabh stalls. This helps them to make a small earning. These ladies presented him with a shawl.
Akshay Kumar next met sanitation workers. Dr. Pathak informed him how these women, who once used to be manual scavengers, carrying night soil on their heads, are now living a life of dignity.
Through the efforts by the Sulabh Organization their lives have changed in such a way that they are able to recite shlokas from the Gita and the Vedas. Earlier people did not allow them to come close or sit in their houses. But now things have changed and these women are looked upon with respect in the society. This group offered Akshay a bouquet of flowers.
After this, Akshay met patients affected earlier by arsenic. These people were dying a slow death but have recovered due to the efforts of Dr. Pathak. Akshay Kumar was surprised to find how the work that could not be achieved by the government was done so effortlessly by Dr. Pathak on his own. He was told that the taps and wells that contained water infected with arsenic were identified and an awareness campaign had been launched among the public. Today all these areas in Bengal have become completely free from arsenic.
Knowing that hailing from Delhi, Akshay was familiar with Punjabi, some women sanitation workers spoke to him in Punjabi discussing with him about the change in their lives. They appeared contended and happy with the developments.
Then came the moment to visit the Sulabh laboratory. Dr. Pathak informed Akshay about various products and by-products of human faeces, one of them being biogas. Demonstration was given as how a cooking stove works on biogas and he himself cooked a papad on the stove. Akshay inspected a biogas generator and himself switched on the light. The solid matter remaining in the plants were used as manure in the fields as fertilizers for crops. Many such plants have been installed throughout the country. Similar plants have been installed in Kabul, Afghanistan, resulting in the working of cooking stoves in hundreds of houses. Akshay was impressed to see how something which is considered as dirty could be so useful to mankind. This not only helps to get rid of the excreta but also meets gas and electricity shortage.
It is often said that the third world war will be waged on drinking water. It is important to ration water while also maintaining hygiene. Normally, maximum water is used in the toilet - about 20 litres of water per visit. Akshay Kumar saw different kind of toilets designed by Sulabh International to solve this problem. He also tried to understand their working. He showed keen interest in them and said it is heartening to see how these toilets will bridge the gap between the rich and the poor as so far the latter did not have access to toilets.
The museum built in the Sulabh premises was his next stop where he came to know that the tradition of making toilets was present in ancient India as well. Taking leave in the end, Akshay told the SSB team that he was very happy to come to Sulabh complex and promised to visit it once again.
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