The Panchayat and Rural Development department has chalked out a plan to make all villages free from open defecation by 2019, its minister Subrata Mukherjee said in the Assembly on Thursday.
He presented Rs 14,282.77 crore budget for the department for 2016-17.
It may be mentioned that the state government has decided to celebrate April 30 of every year as Nirmal divas. But this could not be celebrated this year due to Assembly election and it has been decided that it will be held on September 30. It may be recalled that Nadia has been declared as the country’s first open defecation free district by the Centre. Three other districts, East Midnapore , Hooghly and North 24 Parganas will be ODF districts by September this year. It may be mentioned that Mukherjee while conducting a meeting attended by the District Magistrates in 2014 urged them to take a pledge to make their districts ODF, much before the Swachh Bharat Mission scheme was introduced. He said the state government has taken special initiative under Mission Nirmal Bangla to make 224 Ganga bordering GPs in seven districts of the state ODF at the earliest. In 2016- 17 there is a target for construction of 12,00,000 IHHL and 500 sanitary complexes as well as 500 solid waste management projects. Mukherjee regretted that the Centre had reduced its fund ration from April 1, 2015 increasing the state’s financial burden. To cover the target for 2016-17, Rs 99,510 lakh Central share and Rs 66,340 as state share will be required under the sanitation programme.
The department has constructed over 10,000 km road under Pradhanmantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) and construction of another few thousand km road has been undertaken which will improve rural connectivity.
Mukherjee who is also the state Public Heath Engineering (PHE) minister said that the department was committed to provide safe drinking water in the rural areas. He said this while presenting the department’s budget for 2016-17. He said the department had chalked out an elaborate plan to provide piped water in the fluoride affected areas at an estimated cost of Rs 1,580 crore. There are 43 fluoride affected blocks in seven districts, namely, Birbhum, Bankura, Dakshin Dinajpur, Utter Dinajpur, Purulia, Malda and South 24 Parganas. He said two mega projects named as “Tapan” at an estimated cost of Rs 165 crore and Gangarampur at an estimated cost of Rs 145 crore have been taken in South Dinajpur to cover over 5.13 lakh people. With financial assistance from NITI Ayog, the department will install 385 community purification plants and 58 Arsenic and Iron Removal Plants 138 water ATMs in different schools to provide Arsenic free safe drinking water.