This Forest Officer Helped Build 497 Toilets In 9 Tribal Colonies When Authorities Didn’t Show Up

Anoopa Sebastian

April 5th, 2018

Woman

When government authorities announced the building of toilets under Open Defecation Free (ODF) campaign in colonies of Ernakulam district in Kerala, none of the officers showed up citing reasons like long distance between colonies and the city and the difficulty in transporting manual power and equipment. The authorities then took a decision and handed over the task to PG Sudha, Sectional Police Officer, Kuttampuzha. Her 16 years of valuable service were enough for the state authorities to trust her skills.

Sudha stood up to the trust put in her. She single-handedly spearheaded the project and built 497 toilets in nine tribal colonies.


An inspiring journey

Sudha broke all conventions when she chose the career of a forest officer. She had to travel 16 km every day through dense forests. But she never gave up. She set herself as an epitome of sheer perseverance.

It was in 2016 August that Ernakulam district collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla entrusted the task to Sudha as part of the ODF campaign. “The task was so challenging. No contractors showed up to take up the responsibility. I knocked many doors and finally, I found a solution. I sought the help of local masons from the tribal settlements and it worked out,” Sudha told The Logical Indian.

We had to transport all the building materials from the city through dense forests. There were no proper roads. We had to cross a river and the materials were ferried to colonies on a raft. At one point, the raft drowned into the river and the materials were washed away. Another challenge was the threat from wild animals, especially elephants. We withstood all obstacles with the help of the collector and other officers,” she added.

Sudha completed constructing 497 toilets in a record of three months. Kerala government declared the state as open defecation free, and she bagged the Chief Minister’s Open Defecation Free campaign award in November 2016. But this was not the first recognition for her efforts. She had been named ‘Best Forest Official’ by the Kerala state in 2006. She also received Nari Shakti Puraskar from Pranab Mukherjee in 2016.

Hailing from a tribal belt in Pinavurkudi village, in Ernakulam district, Sudha joined forest service in 2002. She lost her husband 28 years ago and lives with her three sons. Her work is an inspiration for not only citizens but individuals working in the public sector.

The Logical Indian commends her dedication and hopes that the whole of India one day achieves Open Defecation Free status.

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