Hooghly and North 24 Parganas will soon be declared as open defecation free districts.
It may be recalled that Nadia has already been declared as open defecation free district with 3.7 lakh toilets set up in 18 months which is the highest in the country.
Before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Swatch Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014, State Panchayat and Rural Development minister Subrata Mukherjee, while taking part at a function in connection with World Toilet day on November 19, 2013 had urged the District Magistrates to take a pledge to rid the open defecation menace.
The Nirmal Gram project was taken up and a baseline survey was conducted. It was found that of the 1.51 crore rural households, 67.77 lakh households did not have access to toilets. The department swung into action and 26 lakh toilets were constructed in 2 years, the highest growth in the country. It has been decided that every year Nirmal Bangla Divas will be celebrated. It has also been decided that by October 2, 2019 all the rural households will have access to toilets.
Extensive plans have been chalked out by the Panchayat and Rural Development department to launch campaigns to make people aware about using toilets.
On December 4, 2015, 23 lakh pople took part in hand washing programme in North 24 Parganas.
A human chain spreading about 122 km from Kalyani to Patashpur was made where 3.5 lakh people took part as a part of the campaign.
To address two major problems, steps have already been taken to address them. First, it has become a great task to make those in whose house toilets have been built to use them.
“If the beneficiaries are kept out then the whole effort will be non productive. A NGO has been engaged to do the campaign,” a senior official said.
Secondly, in many houses toilets were built before the scheme came into being and in the scheme no provision has been kept for the maintenance or repairing of toilets that were built earlier. The scheme gives money only to set up new toilets.
The Panchayat and Rural Development department has kept money to repair the old ones.