"We are building toilets across Gujarat and are targeting to cover the entire state in the next two years. Once these toilets are built, we do not want anyone to dirty public spaces. We will first create awareness among people about toilets and hygiene, and if still they continue to defecate in open, then we will punish them. I am very clear on it," said Patel while addressing an event organised on the Cities of Gujarat at Gandhinagar where she distributed grants of over Rs 1600 crore to various Urban Local Bodies for carrying out various developmental activities.
"In today's cabinet meeting we have decided to chart out a plan where all six crore Gujarati's will spend one day of every month cleaning their localities. People need to be trained about keeping their surroundings clean, but we should first train ourselves," said Patel while addressing a gathering largely consisting of officials from urban local bodies including municipal corporations, municipalities and urban development authorities.
The chief minister said that a special fund is being created by the government where donations for building toilets will be accepted. "These days, when I get invites for attending mass marriages or other events, I tell them (the organisers), that I will come only if you help me build toilets," Patel said.
Mona Khandar, secretary (housing), Urban Development & Urban Housing Department who spoke at the event said, "Our goal is make Gujarat open-defecation free by 2016. In the next couple of days, we will start off with a massive door-to-door awareness campaign as part of the pre-Vibrant Gujarat clean-up activity."
Earlier in the event, the chief minister distributed cheques amounting to over Rs 1600 crore. Surat Municipal Corporation got the highest grant of Rs 401.81 crore, followed by Jamnagar (Rs 75.77 crore) and Bhavnagar Municipal Corporations(Rs 73.22 crore). The grant disbursed today is part of the Rs 7000 crore annual outlay (2013-14) meant for the Urban Local Bodies of which Rs1900 crore has already been disbursed.
"The money should be used without full transparency. Firms that have been black-listed or have been guilty of project-delays should be kept away from the new tenders that are issued for development activities in your respective regions," Patel added.