Monday, January 30, 2017
Inspiration:Padma Shri celebrates Dehu's own 'Swachhata Doot', Dr SV Mapuskar.
Dr S V Mapuskar, who was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri award in a list of many unsung heroes this year, is a known name in Dehu village, some 40 km from Pune.
He was among the rare breed of doctors that believed in not just treating a disease, but also preventing it.The villagers speak endlessly about the man who transformed their village and pioneered breakthroughs in areas of sanitation, family planning and health. Although the doctor passed on in October 2015, his memories are still fresh in the minds of locals, who cannot stop thanking him for his selfless service since 1959.
Locals remember him as someone who they could approach even after duty hours – the good doctor always obliged. It was this reputation that made them agree to let him build toilets, though back then, they didn’t exactly approve of these ‘new-fangled’ closed toilets.
Unfortunately, the toilets Mapuskar built washed away in the first monsoon of his tenure. Thereafter, the locals did not even let him utter the ‘T’ word for the next two or three years. But, he wasn’t the type to give up. Mapuskar read a lot more and researched further, only to come across Appasaheb Patwardhan’s concept. Patwardhan — better known as Konkan Gandhi — had built Asia’s first biogas plant connected to a toilet; this was the concept Mapuskar emulated and brought to Dehu.
Over the years, Mapuskar built several toilets in Dehu and eventually spread the idea to other states, too. These were no ordinary toilets, but came with a biogas tank. The gases generated from this plant were used to cook and provide gardening water. Even today, several houses in Dehu village are verdant with the plants that grew from this amenity.