Kolkata: In its effort to make West Bengal open defecation free by August 2019, the state government will declare six more districts as ODF this month. The Districts are going to earn the title of ‘Nirmal Zila’ soon.
The six districts are Howrah, Paschim Medinipur, Birbhum, Murshidabad, Malda and Dakshin Dinajpur. The eight existing ODF districts are Nadia, Hooghly, Purba Medinipur, Purba Bardhaman, Paschim Bardhaman, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Cooch Behar.
Nadia was declared in 2015 as the countrys first ODF district under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, which is Mission Nirmal Bangla in the state. Thereafter, Hooghly, East Midnapore, Cooch Behar and North and South 24 Parganas were named ODF districts.
The state government has declared April 30 as Nirmal Bangla Divas. Not just in homes, as part of Mission Nirmal Bangla, toilets are also constructed for the public at large in markets, bus stands, etc.
The Centre aims to make India ODF by October 2, 2019, while the West Bengal government has set a deadline of August, 2019 for the same. According to the State Panchayats and Rural Development Department, in 2017-18, over 9 lakh individual household latrines (IHHLs) were constructed. By October 2019, 53 lakh more has been set as the target.
The state government is being assisted by UNICEF and some NGOs in creating awareness among the people. Mission Nirmal Bangla, adopted by the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress Government in October 2014, is one of the most successful programmes in the country for implementing the construction of toilets, especially in rural areas, to stop open defecation.
The Bengal government is also emphasising on the use and maintenance of toilets in the districts. Toilets must be maintained by those who are using them. Non-maintenance will make the toilets unfit, leading to open defecation again, the official said.