Over 80,000 villages across the country have achieved the target of constructing 100 per cent toilets while 21 districts have now become open defecation free, the government said on Wednesday. “I am happy to share that with the work done by the state government, civic bodies and the Centre, 21 districts have become Open Defecation Free. This is the figure until yesterday,” said Union Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
“Work of constructing 100 per cent toilet in 80,282 villages has been completed. This has happened in some 287 development blocks,” he said, addressing students from seven countries at an event organised by Sulabh School Sanitation Club. Tomar also urged students to ensure 100 per cent sanitation by 2019, a dream programme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said under the Swachch Bharat Mission, the Prime Minister has asked to identify 100 iconic places in the country and have exemplary sanitation levels there. Accordingly, the government has identified such places where sanitation should be ideal. These include Kamakhya temple in Assam, Golden Temple in Amritsar, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, the shrines of Vaishnov Devi and Tirupati Balaji and Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan.
“The pilot project would start at the Kamakhya Dham. I met the Assam Chief Minister (Sarbananda Sonwal) and we discussed a 12-month plan on how to implement it and also what would be done at a gap of every three months,” Tomar said.
Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh Sanitation Movement, said, “We often talk about children as agents of change but do not give them the space or the opportunity to get involved in the movement.
Noting that young girls around the world face multiple problems due to non-availability of proper sanitation facilities and lack of menstrual hygiene is the main concern for them, Pathak said it has a direct impact on not just their health but also access to education. “Failing to address this issue is undermining girls’ education because, if they lack access to proper sanitary products and private bathroom accommodations, they are more likely to miss school during their periods. “Even if they do attend classes when they are menstruating, their ability to participate in class is often severely compromised,” he said.