August 2018: Deadline set for making all districts ODF
Kolkata: Come August 2018, all the districts in Bengal will be Open Defecation Free. The Panchayat and Rural Development department has asked the District Magistrates to pull up their socks and meet the deadline.
Dibyendu Sarkar, commissioner, Panchayat and Rural Development department recently held a high-level meeting with senior officials in the districts and asked them to expedite construction of toilets in the villages and make the districts open defecation free. The deadline has been fixed at August 2018 and all the officials present the meeting agreed to meet the deadline.
Nadia was the first Open Defecation Free (ODF) district in the country. It was followed by North and South 24 Parganas, Hooghly, East Midnapore and Cooch Behar. In East and West Burdwan and Howrah, construction of toilets with rural homes has been completed and state-level verification is going on. Thus, nine out of 23 districts will be
ODF soon. Work is on in a war footing to construct toilets in the villages in the remaining 14 districts.
Senior officials of Panchayat and Rural Development department officials said the way work is being done, it is likely that all the districts in Bengal will be ODF and if the target is met, it will certainly be a major achievement on the part of the state government.
It may be mentioned that Nirmal Bangla Mission under which rural toilets are being built is a pet project of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. She inquires about the progress of work from time to time and had announced the districts as ODF at the administrative review meetings.
The state government had launched Nirmal Bangla Mission much before Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
It was Subrata Mukherjee, minister for Panchayat and Rural Development at a meeting held in Nadia in 2014 who had urged the District Magistrates who had attended the meeting to take a pledge to ensure that the districts where they are working become Open Defecation Free. This was the beginning of Nirmal Bangla Mission.