Mamata to declare Cooch Behar ODF district today
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will declare Cooch Behar as an Open Defecation Free (ODF) district on Tuesday.
Cooch Behar will become the first district in North Bengal that will be declared an ODF district. This is Bengal's fifth district to get the ODF tag. The four other districts are Nadia which is the country's first ODF district, North 24 Parganas, Hooghly and East Midnapore. Two more districts, South 24 Parganas and Burdwan will be announced as ODF district shortly. The state government has decided to construct toilets in all rural homes in the state by March 2019. The Chief Minister's announcement on Tuesday will come a few days before the Nirmal Bangla Divas which will be celebrated throughout the state on April 30.
The Panchayat and Rural Development department had launched the Nirmal Bangla Mission before the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, 2014.
It was Subrata Mukherjee, minister for Panchayat and Rural Development department while addressing a meeting in Nadia, who urged the bureaucrats to take a pledge to make the blocks, areas or the districts where they were working in as Open Defecation Free (ODF). Accordingly, a survey was conducted and the entire department got involved in making the scheme a success. The teachers, students and NGOs were roped in for the success of the programme.
Senior state government officials said that regular meetings had been held to take a stock of the situation. Senior officials of Panchayat and Rural Development department had visited the villages to oversee the work that was going on. In the meetings it was found that Bankura and Purulia districts had were lagging behind and would not be able to meet the deadline.
Immediately, steps were taken to expedite the work. It may be mentioned that senior officials of Panchayat Department from Delhi had recently visited North 24 Parganas, one of the ODF districts and expressed satisfaction over the maintenance of the toilets.
Subrata Mukherjee, minister for Panchayat and Rural Development department said to make the project was success, fund was required to maintain the old ones. "If the toilets are not maintained properly, within a few years, the villages will come back to the original status where people used to go out in the open to defecate."
The Panchayat and Rural Development department is conducting massive awareness programme urging people not to defecate in the open where toilets in rural households have been constructed.