Raghubar govt gifts state ODF crown
The Raghubar Das government on Thursday declared the state open-defecation free (ODF), underscoring that over 33 lakh toilets had been completed. It is though no secret that more toilets do not necessarily curb an age-old practice in this tribal hinterland.
According to state Swachh Bharat Mission director Ameet Kumar, as many as 33,79,697 toilets have been built across the 24 districts. “We incorporated even those homes that had been left out in the baseline survey of 2012 (done by Union drinking water and sanitation ministry) and completed the target set for toilet coverage,” he said.
Kumar elaborated that in 2012, the coverage was a bleak 16 per cent. “There were nearly 40,01,760 households (in 2012) and the number of toilets was merely 6,22,063. We were given the task of achieving the target by October 2019. But, on the directive of the chief minister, we worked on a mission mode and acquired the target a year in advance.”
A number of development schemes, Kumar said, were converged with sanitation initiatives to the make the state open-defecation free. Money was rerouted from District Mineral Foundation Trust, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, MLA development fund and corporate social responsibility fund.
The state also hired more than 1 lakh trained masons (male and female) to construct twin pit toilets, Kumar said. “The government organised a series of campaigns like Swachhta Sahyog Abhiyan and Swachhta hi Seva, and developed a pool of trained masons, jal sahiyas (women who supervise hand pump repair and cleanliness of water bodies) and swachhagrahis (swachhta motivators) in ODF districts. Building of toilets and generating awareness went hand in hand.”
And, to ensure complete behavioural change, the authorities are organising swachhta sabhas (sanitation meetings) on the second of every month across all villages in the state. Officials and residents together discuss the action plan to make a village ODF. On the 19th of every month, sanitation classes are held across villages to apprise people of health hazards due to open defecation, Kumar maintained.
According to statistics, Giridih has witnessed the highest number of toilet construction at 2,65,193, followed by Ranchi with 2,37,336 and Palamu with 2,21,444.
Those who have missed out on earlier opportunities can still avail the government incentive.
“We have begun the LOB (left out beneficiaries) scheme. Anyone left out during the target coverage will receive an incentive of Rs 12,000 for construction of a toilet,” Kumar added.