Malda declared as Open Defecation Free district
Kolkata: Malda was declared as an Open Defecation Free (ODF) district on Tuesday. And with this, it adds on to the list of nine other Bengal districts which have been declared ODF. Dibyendu Sarkar, Commissioner, Panchayat and Rural during an event stated: "Malda rural is completely ODF." Amongst those attending the event were Subrata Mukherjee, state minister for Panchayat and Rural Development and Saurav Das, Additional Chief Secretary, Panchayat. Also in attendance were senior officials of Malda district.
Among other districts that have already been declared as ODF are Nadia (India's first ODF district), North and South 24 Parganas, Hooghly, East Midnapore and East and West Burdwan and Cooch Behar. After this declaration, Malda has clinched the position of the second district in North Bengal to be declared as ODF.
The Bengal government is taking all the necessary steps to declare five more districts as ODF by March 2018. In doing so, Bengal will emerge with 14 ODF districts. After Malda, the next in queue is Howrah. The state administration is all set to declare it ODF by December 2018. While the district officials of Birbhum, North Dinajpur, West Midnapore and Murshidabad have been given a target of March 2018 for ODF districts. Post this, nine remaining districts of Bengal have been given a goal of attaining the ODF status by March 2019, which is much ahead of the October 2, 2019 deadline given by the Centre.
It may be mentioned that the Bengal government had set up the Nirmal Bangla Mission much ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. At a meeting in Krishnanagar in 2014, Subrata Mukherjee had asked all the district magistrates to take a pledge of making the district they worked for open defecation free. The DMs took up the challenge and did an immediate survey to spot rural homes without toilets. And the Bengal government wants to achieve their target much ahead of April 30, which is celebrated as Nirmal Bangla Divas every year.