|West Garo Hills DC Pravin Bakshi lights the inaugural lamp at the workshop in Tura on Thursday.
Picture by UB Photos
Tura, April 24: The five Garo hills districts today pledged to ensure an aggressive approach towards meeting the mandate of nirmal (clean) Meghalaya by 2017.
The deputy commissioners gave presentations at the two-day consultative workshop on “Nirmal Meghalaya” highlighting the substantial gains, which have been made to increase access to improve sanitation.
Highlighting the millennium development goal on improved sanitation facilities, deputy commissioner of West Garo Hills Pravin Bakshi said, “The indigenous innovative knowledge has helped in constructing cost-effective toilets.” He also laid emphasis on change in behaviour for creating an awareness among the rural masses to achieve the target for a clean Meghalaya.
He used the popular tagline “A’chik pride” for the campaign launched in West Garo Hills to propagate the message to do away with unsafe toilets. “It is also known as ‘Shame campaign’ and says that open defecation is an indignity. It poses a major threat to human health,” said Bakshi.
The campaign was launched on a mission mode in 2008-09 in Meghalaya and has seen an upward trend.
However, there is still a long way to go to achieve the target. Meghalaya seeks to achieve a clean image through access to safe sanitation and hygiene practices at all households, institutions and community level on a sustainable basis by 2017.
“People lacked access to adequate sanitation systems and were forced to defecate in the open,” said Bakshi.
Deputy commissioner of East Garo Hills Vijay Mantri spoke at length on the bottlenecks in the implementation of the programme, which include road communication, responsible village level development committee, water accessibility and militancy.
“The cost of materials for the construction goes up because of bottleneck in communication. The calculation of the ministry is not sufficient in many remote areas,” said Mantri.
Deputy commissioner of South Garo Hills Chinmoy Gotmore said, “We have funds for the programme but have not been able to utilise it to the optimum. We face challenges in terms of remote location, poor connectivity, inaccessible terrain, less working hours and high labour rate.”
To achieve the target under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA), the Centre has introduced an incentive programme, Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP).
NGP is awarded to those open defecation free villages, blocks and districts which have become fully sanitised.
Of the over 6,000 villages in Meghalaya, 2,000 have become “open defecation free” by 2013.