Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday announced that rural Maharashtra is open defecation free (ODF). Since the government has already declared the urban area as ODF, the announcement essentially brings the entire state under the category.
Mr. Fadnavis did not waste the opportunity to target the Congress regimes. “In the last 65 years, only 45% households in the state were given toilets. But we have ensured that within three and a half years of our rule, the remaining 55% are given toilets. Before our government came to power, 50.25 lakh houses had toilets. We have given toilets to 60.41 lakh households at a cost of ₹4,500 crore, which was borne by the State and the Centre.”
According to the guidelines issued by the Centre, an area is declared ODF if 95% of the population has a toilet or access to it within 100 meters from the household.
Mr. Fadnavis said the government built 22.51 lakh toilets in 2017-18 alone. “Now since we have constructed toilets, the next stage will be to ensure that people use them.”
The CM also said that to ensure that people do not defecate in open, initiatives such as ‘good morning squads’ and ‘whistle squads’ are on field. “These squads are meant to persuade people to use toilets and it will be ensured that no force is used,” he said.
As per the data made available by the State government, over 40,500 villages have been given toilets since 2014. Apart from individual households, the government has built 2.81 lakh public toilets.
These toilets have been geo-tagged and data of each structure, even from the remote area, has been kept, Mr. Fadnavis claimed. “We assure you that these toilets are not merely on paper but have actually been on the ground.”
“We are aware that public toilets is a necessity in a city like Mumbai. Even as the state has become ODF, it does not mean that the government will stop building public toilets. Despite having a space constraint, the construction of toilets will continue,” the CM said.
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