Three more districts to be declared Open Defecation Free by April 30
Three more districts in the state will be declared Open Defecation Free district (ODF) by April 30 which will take the total number of ODF districts inthe state to seven.
April 30 is celebrated as Nirmal Bangla Divas throughout the state. However, it could not be held last year because of the Assembly elections.
The districts that will declared ODF are South 24 Parganas, Burdwan and Cooch Behar. Four districts that have already been declared ODF are Nadia, North 24 Parganas, Hooghly and East Midnapore. Nadia was the country's first ODF district while South 24 Parganas has the highest number toilets amounting to more than 6.50 lakh.
Senior officials of Panchayat and Rural Development department said the verification survey was completed in Cooch Behar while in South 24 Parganas and Burdwan, they were still on. Though the Centre has fixed the deadline to construct toilets in every rural household by October 2019 under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the state government has brought the deadline to March 2019.
In 2017-18 financial year, five more districts will be declared ODF. They are Howrah, Malda, West Dinajpur, Birbhum and Murshidabad. It may be recalled that senior officials from the Ministry of Panchayati Raj had recently visited North 24 Parganas and visited the villages where toilets in rural households had been constructed and expressed their satisfaction.
The Panchayat and Rural Development department along with district administration have launched massive campaigns all over the state. Teams under the supervision of District Magistrates have been set up to request people not to litter in the open.
The Panchayat and Rural Development department has expressed concern over the maintenance of the toilets that have been constructed. "The villagers will have to maintain them and unless the awareness is there, they will not be able to maintain them. Hopefully the awareness campaign will have its positive impact," a senior official said.