Kolkata: Panchayats and Rural Development department has created a silent revolution with Nirmal Bangla Mission by constructing 61,21,088 toilets in rural households.
Construction of rural toilets is being taken up on a war footing and the target to complete a total of 64,15,430 toilets has been fixed on December 2018. The deadline to set up rural toilets under Swachh Bharat Mission is October 2018.
Nadia was India's first district that was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). In Bengal, so far eight districts have been declared ODF. They are Nadia, South and North 24-Parganas, East and West Burdwan, Cooch Behar, Hooghly and East Midnapore.
Howrah and Malda will be declared ODF by March 2018. The other districts that will be declared ODF are Murshidabad, South Dinajpur and Birbhum. Thus soon, five more districts will be declared ODF taking the total to 13.
For the construction of each toilet, the state government and Centre have jointly given Rs 12,000. The estimated cost of the toilets will be around Rs 10,900 each. The Panchayat and Rural Development department take Rs 900 from the beneficiaries. Thus, the department dishes out Rs 10,000 as the cost of construction of toilets. Later, Rs 2,000 is given as community incentive.
A massive campaign has been carried out, asking people to use the toilets and not to defecate in the open. In many districts, teams were set up under the leadership of the district magistrates and they went around the districts in the morning, asking the villagers to use the toilets.
Maintenance of the toilets is a major issue. If the toilets are not used, then the whole effort will become futile. Unless the villagers come forward and maintain the toilets properly, then in another three to four years, open defecation will start again and the toilets will become defunct by then.
Senior officials of Panchayats and Rural Development department are planning about the maintenance of the toilets after they are handed over to the beneficiaries.