Days after PM Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech spoke about the difficulties faced by women in rural areas in the absence of toilets at their homes, the Congress government in Karnataka is quietly giving finishing touches to a new legislation that makes toilets mandatory across the state.
The Siddaramaiah government is planning to table the Karnataka Sanitary Facility Guarantee Bill 2014 in the winter session of assembly, and if passed, Karnataka will be the first state in the country to have such a law.
The draft Bill proposes stringent penalties on local authorities for failing to ensure toilet facilities at public places and at homes. Sources involved in the drafting of the Bill told The Sunday Express that the PM’s call for a toilet revolution stirred the Congress government in the state to put the process of finalising the Bill on the fast track. “There is a national sentiment for better hygienic conditions in the country and this has resulted in increased activity on the sanitary facility Bill proposed in Karnataka. The government has suddenly asked the draft committee to finalise the draft bill,” a source said.
A copy of the draft Bill, which is in public circulation, speaks of bringing the entire state under its ambit, including private and public buildings. According to the draft Bill, bus stops, stadiums,wedding halls, cinema houses, offices and temporary establishments must make toilet provisions in order to obtain clearance for functioning from the local authority.
The Bill proposes that the government would construct toilets for families with annual income below Rs 1.25 lakh, single women and disabled individuals living independently. It proposes a penalty of Rs 100 on local authorities for each day of delay — up to a maximum of Rs 10,000 — in building toilets for the poor once the toilets are sanctioned.
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The proposed law will be pushed as “an Act to guarantee sanitary facilities and a life with dignity especially for rural women and to provide a healthy environment free from ill-effects of open defecation”.