Come April 30, which is celebrated as Nirmal Bangla Divas, two districts in West Bengal — North 24-Parganas and Hooghly — will be declared as open defecation free districts.
It may be recalled that Nadia has already been declared as the open defecation free district.
Around 3.7 lakh toilets were constructed in the district in 18 months and bagged the crown of being the best open defecation free district in the country.
The announcement was made by the Centre and and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee conveyed this to public during a function at Krishnagar on April 30, 2015. She had announced that the day would be celebrated as Nirmal Bangla Divas every year.
Dibyendu Sarkar, director of Mission Nirmal Bangla said a statewide baseline survey on houses having access to toilets had revealed that out of 1.51 crore rural households, 67.77 lakh of them did not have access to toilet facility.
The state government took up the issue much before the Centre declared the Swatch Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014.
The state Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee held a meeting with the district magistrates on October 19, 2013 which is observed as world toilet day and the district magistrates took a pledge to prevent open defecation and every household should have access to toilets. As per the Centre’s guidelines, all the rural houses in the country must have access to toilets by October 2, 2019 and Sarkar believes that the state government will achieve the target much early.
He said that three problems had cropped up and the panchayat and Rural development department had taken elaborate measures to iron out the problems.
The biggest question now is whether those who have got toilets at their houses will finally use them. To change their behavioral pattern, massive awareness drive has been taken up. On 4 December, 2015 around 23 lakh people took part in the hand washing drive in Nadia.
The second question is those toilets which had been constructed before the Swatch Bharat Mission came into force need immediate repair and as no fund has been allotted under the Mission, state government is trying to find out ways and means to repair them.