In its effort to make West Bengal open defecation free by August 2019, the state government will declare three more districts, East and West Burdwan and Howrah, as ODF this month. The declaration is likely to be made in the second or third week of this month by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a senior state government official told PTI. “Reports from the respective district administrations of East and West Burdwan and Howrah regarding ODF have been submitted to the government. The reports are being verified by the panchayat and rural development department.
“Once the verification is complete, these three districts will be declared open defecation free,” the IAS officer said. Nadia was declared in 2015 as the country’s 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.
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. On the steps taken by the state government to achieve this, an official of the panchayat and rural development department said, “We are working much ahead of the schedule and hopefully we will achieve the target before the deadline. “We are trying to declare a few more districts like Birbhum, South Dinajpur and Malda ODF by this year-end.”
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. The state government is being assisted by UNICEF and some NGOs in creating awareness among the people.