The panchayat and Rural Development department has set March 2018 as the deadline when all rural houses in the state will have toilets.
A high level meeting in this regard was held in the office of the Panchayat and Rural development office on Tuesday. The District Magistrates of Hooghly, East Midnapore and North 24 Parganas were present at the meeting. Senior officials of Public Health Engineering department and UNICEF attended the meeting. Dibyendu Sarkar, commissioner of Panchayat and Rural development department was present at the meeting.
It has been decided that Hooghly will be an open defecation free (ODF) district by August and East Midnapore will be an ODF district by September end. It may be mentioned here that Nadia has become the first to achieve ODF status in the country. Two districts, Burdwan and South 24 Parganas will be open defecation free by March 31, 2017.
The drive has been picking up in Purulia. In Purulia in 2014-15, only 7,288 toilets were built. However, it went up in 2015-16 when 50,879 toilets were constructed.
The department has taken up massive awareness campaign. The biggest problem faced by the department is the maintenance of toilets that had been constructed before the scheme came in. There is no provision under the scheme about the maintenance of the toilets.
Also, the baseline survey was not flawless and some households got omitted. In many houses as the house has been partitioned among brothers, the construction of new toilets has become necessary. But this has not been included in the baseline survey. In such cases, attempts have been made to incorporate them in the list.
The UNICEF has also carried out a massive campaign. It takes months for a person to stop open defecation. But once convinced people prefer to use toilets and maintain them.