Panchkula 5,067 villages and counting: on track to be 1st open-defecation free district in Haryanahttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/5067-villages-and-counting-panchkula-on-track-to-be-1st-open-defecation-free-district-in-haryana-2848178/

Panchkula 5,067 villages and counting: on track to be 1st open-defecation free district in Haryana

As per the data available, as many 5,067 villages have declared themselves as open-defecation free through written submission that all households in the village have constructed toilets.

open defecation, toilets India,  Panchkula, Harayana open defecation, swacch bharat, swacch bharat Harayana
An under-construction toilet at Kona village, Pinjore. Express

More than three months after the Panchkula administration started the campaign to encourage people to build toilets, the district is heading towards becoming the first district to be declared as open-defecation free in the state.

As per the data available with the administration, as many 5,067 villages have declared themselves as open-defecation free through written submission that all households in the village have constructed toilets. There are a total of 5,526 villages in the district in four blocks, namely Barwala, Raipur Rani, Kalka and Pinjore.

“At present, it is based on self-declaration by the villages, where the village head submits an affidavit to the administration stating that all households in the village have a toilet facility. This will be followed by inspection from teams from other districts, and then from the Centre government, after which the villages will be certified to be as ‘open-defecation free’,” said Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Hema Sharma.

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Apart from holding meetings with village residents and separately with women residents and elderly persons, the officials had planned a range of activities as part of the campaign. Volunteers formed vigilante groups that used psychological tools to deter people from defecating in open, including blowing whistle.

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Out of total 5,067 villages, where the heads submitted self-declaration of being open-defecation free, 1,115 are in Barwala, 1,493 are in Raipur Rani, 840 are in Morni and 1,619 in Pinjore. According to officials villages of Morni, Pinjore and Kalka were among the first to participate in the campaign.

In a survey conducted in the year, 2012, there were total 30,527 households in rural Panchkula, out of which only 13,078 had built toilets while 17, 450 were without the facility.

“There is still lot of rigidity among residents. There were ample cases, where people have built plush houses, and there were vast range of facilities, but there was no toilet. Women were forthcoming when he held meetings with them, but unfortunately, women are not heard much in the rural set up,” she said. Ever since, 7,864 residents had availed the funds from the government for constructing the toilets, and applications of 550 people are under process.

With only 459 villages left out of which 122 are in Barwala, 201 in Raipur Rani, 56 in Morni and 80 in Pinjore, the district is inching towards achieving the target.