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Meghalaya aims for a clean image

Shillong, April 21: Meghalaya, which is still facing the problem of open defecation, has set a target for nirmal (clean) state for the year 2014-15.

Giving a presentation at a two-day consultative workshop towards achieving “Nirmal Meghalaya” organised here today, Meghalaya PHE additional chief engineer P.K. Pandey said the target set componentwise for the year 2014-15 include 51,765 individual household toilets, 8,094 school toilets, 1,108 Anganwadi toilets, 70 sanitary complexes and 600 solid liquid waste management (SLWM) units.

Meghalaya has a long way to go to ensure cent per cent toilet graph in rural households through total sanitation campaign now known as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) being implemented with a goal to eradicate the practice of open defecation.

Officials at the workshop said the state government had taken steps to promote sanitation under various flagship programmes of the central government such as NBA along with the incentive programme, Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP)

It was claimed that due to these efforts (NBA and NGP), the toilet coverage in Meghalaya was 54 per cent as in 2011.

Out of over 6,000 villages in Meghalaya, only 365 had received NGP as in 2011. Only 11 villages had received the NGP award in 2008. The award is given to those “open defecation free” villages, blocks and districts, which have become fully sanitised.

As in March 2013, 588 villages received NGPs from the Centre and more than 2,000 villages have become “open defecation free”.

“The task of achieving behavioural change among the entire rural population and making the state nirmal (clean), remains a daunting task, with many challenges still to be addressed. These include hilly terrain, lack of approach roads and access to services and weak capacities of the traditional village institutions,” an official said.

However, the Meghalaya government came out with a claim that a state policy on rural sanitation would be adopted with clear goals to achieve a nirmal Meghalaya along with principles being adopted to take the goals forward.

“The state government seeks to achieve nirmal Meghalaya through access to safe sanitation and hygiene practices at all households, institutions and community level on a sustainable basis by the year 2017,” the official said.

The objectives of the policy being adopted to achieve the goal include safe and sustainable facilities for all households in rural Meghalaya, improved hygiene at both personal and household levels and improved environmental sanitation in villages.

The success and failure in the implementation of NBA in rural areas of the state was thoroughly discussed at the workshop. Deputy commissioners of various districts as well as PHE officials and block development officers were among the participants.