Toilet construction on war-footing in 3 districts
Work to construct toilets under Nirmal Bangla Mission in South 24 Parganas, Burdwan and Coochbehar has been taken up on a war-footing as the deadline of March 31, 2017 to declare these districts as Open Defecation Free (ODF) districts, is drawing closer.
Already, four districts have been declared as ODF districts. Nadia is country’s first ODF district while the other three ODF districts are Hooghly, East Midnapore and North 24 Parganas. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had declared Hooghly, East Midnapore and North 24 Parganas as ODF districts in the administrative review meeting held in Hooghly on September 29. Earlier, Banerjee had announced that every year April 30 would be celebrated as Nirmal Bangla Divas. However, the day could not be observed this year due to Assembly elections.
PB Salim, District magistrate of South 24 Parganas, said during baseline survey it was found that 5.62 lakh houses in the district did not have toilets. Around 4.40 lakh toilets have been constructed till date. “The work is being carried out on a war-footing and we will be able to meet the deadline,” Salim said.
In Burdwan, initiatives have been taken by the district magistrate Soumitra Mohan and special teams have been formed, which go out in the morning requesting people not to litter in the open. Awareness drives are also being carried out by the district administration.
Dibyendu Sarkar, commissioner Panchayat and Rural Development Department, said by March 31, three more districts would be declared ODF districts and the state government has decided to declare all the districts as ODF by March 2019.
The state government had launched Nirmal Bangla Mission before the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Swatch Bharat Mission on 2 October, 2014. Subrata Mukherjee, minister for Panchayat and Rural Development Department in a meeting had urged all the district magistrates in 2013 that they should take an oath to make their districts ODF districts. Accordingly, a baseline survey was conducted.
Senior officials of Panchayat and Rural Development Department said when the work started it was seen that some houses had been left out in the survey and later they had been included in the list. The UNICEF is carrying out massive awareness campaign urging people to use toilets in the districts that have been declared ODF. During Durga Puja in some community pandals campaigns would be launched urging people to wash hands before taking any meal.