- Over 2 lakh toilets have been built in Osmanabad since 2014
- The district has roped in local population in toilet building activities
- Osmanabad becomes the 14th district in Maharashtra to attain the ODF tag
New Delhi: On the day the nation was glued to Budget 2018 announcements, that saw Finance Minister laud the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, yet another district went open defecation free (ODF). On February 1, 2018, Osmanabad became the state’s 14th open defecation free (ODF) district, adding another feather in the state’s Swachh crown. Maharashtra, which has made considerable strides in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan with rural sanitation coverage of 99.42 per cent, up from the meagre 52 per cent in 2014.
With over 2 lakh (2,29,582) household toilets across the district, Osmanabad is a success story which is sure to inspire other districts across India. Given the state’s commitment to become completely ODF by March 2018, all the districts in Maharashtra have been working overtime to attain ODF status. Osmanabad’s success has been possible due to the district administration involving and encouraging the local people in toilet building initiatives. Along with Swachh Bharat Preraks, who encourage people to adopt clean sanitation measures, district officials went from village to village to let people know about the Abhiyan and how assistance for toilet building would be provided by the government.
Osmanabad’s ODF status has been possible because of the collaborative effort of every individual involved in building toilets and spreading awareness about them. From district officials to villagers to Swachh Bharat Preraks, each individual has contributed positively in ensuring that toilets are built and used properly in all 621 villages across the district, said a Zilla Parishad official, Osmanabad.
Relentless efforts like these culminated into the historic digging of 10,000 toilet pits in under 18 hours in July 2017. What was more fascinating was the participation of block development officers, NGO members and sarpanches in the whole task, bringing the district together towards eliminating the common practice of open defecation. To make people more aware about the necessities of safe sanitation, the district administration introduced the concept of ‘Vidyarthi Swachhta Nyayalay’. People found defecating in the open were given a notice by ‘Good Morning’ squads run by students. The defaulters were asked to appear in the students’ court, which has about eight to nine students apart from a three member jury panel.
Once the guilt was established, punishments were announced ranging from cleaning public toilets to sweeping school premises. The judiciary system was introduced in the district to make people understand that open defecation too could be treated as an offence.
The true goal of becoming open defecation free can only be achieved if people are conscious about the importance of using toilets. Along with building household toilets, we also wanted to spread adequate awareness on the importance of their usage, said the official.
With Osmanabad’s ODF status, Maharashtra inches steadily towards its ODF target. With over 51 lakh toilets constructed in rural areas since 2014, 32 districts in the state have sanitation coverage over 95 per cent and the remaining have coverage over 80 per cent. Urban Maharashtra was declared ODF on October 2, 2017 and with its rural counterpart poised to join soon, the state is eyeing to become completely ODF well ahead of the Central government’s set deadline of October 2019.