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Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram All Set To Become Open Defecation Free Before March 31, Thanks To Its Swachh Bharat Monitoring Cell

Vizianagaram is all to set to get open defecation free tag ahead of its deadline of March 31, 2018 as the district administration is constructing individual household toilets on a war-footing

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  • Monitoring cell is where the brainstorming happens for Swachh Bharat Missio
  • District Collector closely monitors the work of the Monitoring cell
  • Toilet construction is going on a war footing to make Vizianagaram ODF

New Delhi: From dismal sanitation coverage of less than 22 percent in early 2017 to making the entire district open defecation free before March 31, 2018, Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram district has gone through a swachh revolution. In March 2017, the district stood at 674th rank among all districts of the country and rose up to the 217th rank by October 2017 and 20th rank on January 1, 2018. The coastal district revved up its sanitation coverage by launching a number of initiatives, including the “10,000 individual household toilets in 100 hours” campaign in May 2017 and setting up of a District Swachh Bharat Monitoring Cell where the brainstorming and planning happen for the efficient implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission. According to the government officials, the monitoring cell primarily contributed to the district’s fight to end its age old problem of open defecation, ahead of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s deadline of making the state ODF by March 31.

Also Read: First Year College Students In Andhra Pradesh To Receive Marks For Participation In Swachhta Activities

Until September 2017, the monitoring cell functioned at a smaller scale, monitoring specific programmes such as the ambitious “100 Hours” programme where 10,000 individual household latrines were built in just 100 hours with the help of over 3,000 officials and 2,000 labourers, and in the process made 71 Gram Panchayats (GP) ODF. However, the district administration felt the need for a dedicated, full time functioning monitoring cell, as stable performance was lacking and departments still worked independently, said the Zila Swachh Bharat Prerak of the district.

People now consider a toilet as a valuable asset and have started even started decorating it with different colours

An effective convergence between all significant departments pertaining to the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin programme was required to ensure that the district becomes open defecation as per the deadline.

For effective coordination among all stakeholder departments in the district, and for smooth and speedy execution of the construction of individual household toilets, the Swachh Bharat Mission monitoring cell was constituted. We strengthened the monitoring cell by converging departments into 19 committees primarily based upon the task and not on the departmental line, said one of the district officials.

Also Read: Economic Survey 2018: Open Defecation In Rural Areas Down 45 Per Cent Since Swachh Bharat Abhiyan Launch

Major committees of the monitoring cell include the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) for data management and data analysis; the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) committee for various triggering activities to convince people to adopt safe sanitation practices; the media and public relations committee to ensure effective dissemination of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan policies; the committee for material procurement and management of the construction of toilets, to name a few.

The central monitoring cell has the representation of at least one higher level officer per department to continuously monitor the progress of toilet construction. In addition to monitoring the implementation process, the monitoring cell also coordinates the bottlenecks at field level during toilet construction with converging official departments, namely, Mandal Parishads, District Rural Development Agencies, Distrtct Water Management Agency, District Public Planning Officer and District Panchayat Officer, the district official further said.

As part of this exercise, the District Collector also closely monitors all the committees regularly via meetings, video conferences and tele-conferences.

To ensure the district goes open defecation free ahead of its deadline, the toilet construction activity is going on briskly in all of the gram panchayats. In addition to this, the swachh vigilance committees have been conducting morning walks and door-to-door campaigns to create awareness among the public, habituated to open defecation, to adopt safe sanitation practices as part of ODF sustainability. According to the district officials, penalties would be imposed on the people who violated ODF rules under the Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayat Act.

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