India, Himachal Pradesh: good response to sanitation awareness campaign

The hill state of Himachal Pradesh is surging ahead on the path of becoming completely free from open defecation by the end of 2010.

There has been a tremendous increase in rural sanitation coverage from less than 30 per cent in 2001 to over 80 per cent in 2009. The campaign to stamp out open defecation is eliciting encouraging response from the rural masses and yielding a positive outcome.

The gram panchayats, which achieve 100 per cent sanitation coverage in terms of individual household toilets, schools and anganwadis, defecation-free and clean environment are being provided fiscal incentives. As many as 22 gram panchayats (village councils) were given the “Nirmal Gram Puraskar” in 2006-07 and the number rose to 245 in 2007-08 and 253 in the following year. Gram panchayats receiving the incentives could use the funds for maintaining sanitation facilities in their respective areas. The blocks and districts could use the funds to set up monitoring mechanisms for sanitation. However, the gram panchayat is derecognised if it fails to maintain the ODF status.

The maximum number of 125 Nirmal panchayats was in Mandi, followed by 29 in Kangra, 23 in Shimla, 25 in Hamirpur, 15 in Solan, 13 in Sirmaur, 7 in Chamba, 8 in Bilaspur, 3 each in Kullu and Lahaul and Spiti, one each in Una and Kinnaur. They were given cash rewards ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh A sum of Rs 3.65 crore would be disbursed among the ‘Nirmal Gram Panchayats’ so that the remaining panchayats were also inspired to follow their footsteps. The government has decided to honour the people who contribute in the implementation of total sanitation programme in their respective areas.

The government has also started the ’Maharishi Valmiki Sampuran Swachhata Puraskar’ to help achieve the goal of safe and hygienic sanitation facilities for all and to motivate the panchayati raj institutions. School sanitation reward scheme and Mahila Mandal Protsahan Yojna has also been started.

Source: The Tribune, 21 Feb 2010

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