March 2, 2009 1:50:43 am
Around 2.98 lakh toilets will be built in Pune district by April this year through a special sanitation drive of the state government. Open defecation is rampant in nearly three-fourths of the districts villages – just 26 per cent fall in the open defecation-free (ODF) category.
The government is using special drives,Sujal and Nirmal Maharashtra,to promote toilet construction. State sanitation department coordinator Mallinath Kalshetty said of the 1,401 gram panchayats in the district,only 371 are ODF.
We want to cover the remaining gram panchayats by April, he said.
The special sanitation drive was launched on January 26 by President Pratibha Patil from Pune for the entire state.
With the state to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2010,the aim of the drive is to have all the villages in the state achieve this status,he added.
Kalshetty said that for Pune,the target was to construct 4.32 lakh toilets of which only 1.34 lakh toilets have been completed.
Special coordinators have been appointed to maintain records as well as motivate people to build toilets.
Recently,collector Chandrakant Dalvi had even withheld salaries of over 6,000 government employees for not building toilets. Kalshetty said that government officers must abide by the rules as they are the implementing agency.
If they default how can we expect others to follow? said Kalshetty.
The campaign started on January 26 and will go on till the end of April. Kalshetty said that they have divided the villages into four groups to be taken up for monitoring till April.
Statewide,of 2.79 lakh gram panchayats,6,668 are ODF. Kalshetty said Kolhapur has the highest number of villages in the ODF category with 860 of 1,027 villages,while Nandurbar has the lowest with just 24 of 501 gram panchayats.
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