When you hear the word hostel, the first image that comes to your mind is cramped rooms and bad food. When you hear the word government hostel, the image only gets even worse- stinking toilets, taps that run dry, dingy rooms, dirty corridors etc. This may or may not be true in some cases, but now it is definitely not the case for around 100 welfare hostels in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh.
The toilets at 97 hostels in Srikakulam district have been given a facelift and when the students return to their hostels once schools reopen, they’re surely in for a surprise. The hostels have been given a new lease of life with fresh paint, new wash basins, new commodes and the latest fittings. The hostels have also been provided with drinking water and adequate lighting. Mosquito nets have also been provided on the windows of the hostels.
This facelift has been given to the hostels under the ‘Maarpu’ programme, started in Srikakulam district by J Nivas, the district Collector. Maarpu means change and that is exactly what the district administration is trying to bring about in the hostels. The district has around 140 welfare hostels, which includes social welfare hostels and Backward Classes welfare hostels.
Earlier this year, hoping to bring about a positive change, the district Collector began staying in these hostels overnight, once in every fortnight. Following the Collector’s directive, soon Mandal special officers began staying in the hostels once a week. Thanks to this initiative, the welfare department started intensification of the efforts to improve the hostels.
Speaking to TNM, Srikakulam Collector J Nivas said, “This entire idea of renovating toilets, providing adequate lighting, providing drinking water etc stemmed from the visits that we carried out to the welfare hostels. Every visit to a hostel, the first thing we inspected was the toilets in the hostel. The idea of renovating the toilets and getting the best fitting installed is to ensure that no work has to be done on the toilets for at least the next 30 years.”
The renovation works that began in July 2019 has been completed now and have been carried out at an estimated expense of Rs 11.34 crore. This money was taken from the District Mineral Fund.
When J Nivas was collector of Vijayawada, several schools had been given a similar facelift. The collector wanted to implement the same successful model in Srikakulam as well. “Sanitization and hygiene are not topics to only be taught in classrooms. They need to experience the same. Students can be agents of change. When they see their hostels and toilets neat and well-maintained, they will inculcate the same at their home and in their villages. We want students to become our swachh ambassadors."