New Delhi: With merely 31.47% Individual Household Latrine (IHHL) coverage, the state of Bihar has so far fared very poorly in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. To attain the Central government’s goal of Open Defecation free (ODF) India by October 2019, the 13th largest state has set a deadline of making itself open defecation free by March 2019. In a review meeting held with the Rural Development Department and Panchayati Raj Department, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked the officials to speed up the ODF process.
— Nitish Kumar (@NitishKumar) August 6, 2017
A high level meeting was conducted on August 6 to review the progress of various government programmes and schemes including Lohia Swachh Bihar Abhiyan, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
The state government aims to turn all its 4,555 gram panchayats ODF by the end of the current financial year 2017-18. In addition the minister asked the officials to eradicate the practice of open defecation completely from all its 38 districts.
As per the statistics provided by the Minister of Water and Sanitation, presently of the 38,791 villages only 17 villages have been declared ODF. 20 blocks out of 534 have declared itself free from open defecation and no district has yet been declared ODF.
Last month, Bihar Rural Development Minister Sharwan Kumar had said that Bihar aims to become ODF by October 2, 2019 and to achieve this target 200 gram panchayats need to go ODF each month, “It is a challenge for us to construct millions of toilets in next two-and-half years,” said Mr Kumar.
With nearly 1.6 crore toilets still to be constructed by 2019, Praveen More, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Specialist, Bihar Field Office, Unicef had said recently that community participation is extremely important for people in Bihar to adopt safe sanitation practices. He further added that a Community-led Total Sanitation approach needs to be adopted first to sensitise people before constructing toilets. WASH had earlier implemented this approach in Rampur panchayat in Khagaria district, which was the first panchayat to become ODF in 2015, followed by other regions like Piprasi and Sanjhauli.