According to a statement released by the Gujarat Government, approximately 6,000 villages in the state are now Open Defecation-Free (ODF). State Panchayat and Rural Development’s Minister Jayanti Kavadia stated that the goal set by the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan under the central government was to ensure that 18,000 villages become ODF by 2019. “In the last two years, we have built more than 12.50 lakh toilets across Gujarat. As a result, 6,000 villages are now Open Defecation Free. As of now, 30 talukas in the state now have 100 per cent toilet facility,” said Kavadia.
3,000 of the 6,000 villages were honoured at the event that launched the ‘Smart Village’ initiative, led by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel. Between 1960 to 1995, not much was done to address the issue of open defecation, commented the Chief Minister. The current govt. has spent Rs. 12,000 per toilet.
If gram panchayats work together with the state government and other voluntary organisations, the goal is proposed to be achieved as soon as 2017. As per a report by The Indian Express, the ‘Smart Village’ initiative will use a high level committee to select 300 villages and provide them with grants that will allow them to achieve their benchmarks.
The initiative requires village panchayats to submit an application along with a vision document that shows what their aims are and how they propose to achieve their ‘Smart Village’ status. These include 100 percent Wi-Fi facilities, ODF, vaccinations, an increase in door-to-door waste collection and reduced drop-out ratios. After three years, the villages will be evaluated to see if they have achieved their target goals. For this initiative, the state government has allocated Rs. 185 crore in total, which will be granted to villages in phases of 25 lakhs - 1 crore at a time to help achieve their targets.
Representational feature image courtesy of The Hindu
Words: Divija Mohan