District hopes to board rural water scheme bus
For over three years,Pune has been struggling to achieve the open defecation-free status. The achievement so far has been only 33%.
However,this might change with a new challenge of a central scheme the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) being linked to the achievement of the Total Sanitation Campaign. The district administration has now set itself a new target of being 100 per cent open defecation free by this August in order to participate in the NRDWP. We are carrying out several programmes in this regard for the last few months. Sincere and dedicated efforts by convincing people is the only solution, said Zilla Parishad Chief Executive Officer Anil Kawade.
The decision to set a new deadline to achieve the open defecation-free status was taken when the district,in spite of facing several water-related issues,could not participate in the NRDWP as one of the criteria was implementation of the total sanitation programme.
In Pune district,of 1,407 villages,473 have been declared open defecation-free while the proposal of 483 villages has been sent to the state and central governments for approval. With almost 30 per cent of the villages requiring water supply,implementation of the sanitation programme would now be mandatory in the district.
The total sanitation programme was launched in 2007. However,Pune district has fallen behind several others which have achieved the 100 per cent target for the open defecation-free status in the state. Despite several initiatives,the response has remained lackadaisical. Even the recent list of suspending 350 gram sabha members for not constructing toilet blocks is yet to be cleared. The Ministry of Rural Development wants to given them an extension. Other initiatives need to be carried out to achieve this goal, said Kawade.
Officials from the sanitation department maintain that in the state,out of 27,928 villages,9,082 gram panchayats have been successful in implementing the total sanitation programme. Rural department officials say the process would take another two years. We had asked gram panchayats to monitor construction of toilet blocks. We have also set up morning squads to keep a check on squatters, said A Shaila,deputy secretary,sanitation department. The state has achieved 68% of the target in the sanitation drive. We still have a long way to go, she added.
The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation under the Ministry of Rural Development has released Rs 7.45 crore as cash reward for 694 Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in Maharashtra for exemplary performance under the Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) programme for the financial year 2010-11.
The funds would be disbursed through the State Water and Sanitation Mission,Maharashtra. The reward money for all the states will be disbursed in two steps first,85 per cent or Rs 8.77 crore will be released for 2010-11. The remaining amount shall be released after the states submit statements of utilisation of the money released for NGP during the previous year and disbursement of at least 50 per cent of the award money to the eligible gram panchayats during 2010-11.