Suri: After Malda, which had been declared an Open Defecation Free (ODF) district in November, Birbhum is soon going to become a ‘Nirmal Jela’. It will be the 10th district to be notified as such.
Among other districts that have already been declared as ODF are Nadia (India’s first ODF district), North and South 24 Parganas, Purba Medinipur, Hooghly, Purba and Paschim Bardhaman and Cooch Behar.
In Howrah, work to make the district Open Defecation Free is on in full swing. By March 2018, two more districts, Paschim Medinipur and Murshidabad, will be declared ODF. The remaining districts have been given a goal of attaining the ODF status by December 2018.
Mission Nirmal Bangla has been highly successful in making the districts of Bengal largely free from open defecation activities. Programmes of the scheme like awareness rallies, Nirmal Utsav, felicitation of community facilitators, Nirmal Adda, etc. ensure that ODF becomes a sustained habit, and there is no slipping back to open defecation. Third-party verification activity has been introduced in the rural areas of districts to ensure that there is impartial verification of the building and usage of toilets.
April 30 is celebrated every year as Nirmal Bangla Diwas, being designated so by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Under Mamata Banerjee’s leadership, Bengal had already started its journey towards achieving ODF status for the rural areas of the state since the World Toilet Day celebration on November 19, 2013. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a partner of the State Government in this journey.