THE STATE panchayat and rural development department will award the cleanest district in the state with Rs 10 lakh, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday.
“Hooghly and North-24 Parganas have joined the list of Bengal’s open defecation free (ODF) districts,” she had said on Thursday. On April 30, 2015, Nadia had become the first district across the country to earn the ODF status.
Previously, Mamata had announced that the state’s Nirmal Bangla Mission — launched on October 2, 2014 — was set to become a model for the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The idea was to bring all existing sanitation projects under the scheme.
Officials, meanwhile, said the government would renovate crematoriums as part of the Nirmal Bangla Mission.
“In many areas, people leave behind semi-burnt remains of their relatives. Under the Nirmal Bangla Mission, we will renovate these crematoriums. Already, we are giving Rs 2,000 to those who are not in a position to cremate the bodies of their loved ones,” said an official.
Officials said while Burdwan and South-24 Parganas will be declared open defecation free by March, 2017, the panchayat and rural development department wants to ensure that all districts in Bengal are declared ODF by March, 2019.
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“In Purulia district, work was lagging behind but it had picked up. It will be declared as an open defecation free district as per schedule,” said an official.
He added: “The department has been carrying out massive awareness campaigns so that people use toilets and do not go into the field to defecate. Though the toilets are being constructed free of cost, these need to be maintained. Some NGOs and UNICEF have joined hands with the state government to create awareness among the people.”