West Bengal’s ‘Nirmal Bangla’ project is all set to become one of the models for the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Saturday.
“The Secretary of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation came to meet me today and said the Centre has decided to use Nirmal Bangla project of Bengal as a model for Swachh Bharat,” the CM said. Parameswaran Iyer, the official from the Union ministry, later told journalists that Bengal was doing “great work” in the field of sanitation and drinking water.
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Mission Nirmal Bangla is an off-shoot of the Centre’s clean India campaign and was launched by the state government on October 2, 2014. The idea, explained government officials, was to bring all existing sanitation projects under one scheme.While the Nirmal Bangla project draws financial support from the plans sanctioned to states under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the state government has set its own target and administrative mechanism in place, putting forth a healthy competition towards cleanliness.
On April 30, 2015, Nadia became the country’s first district to earn Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. In less than 18 months, nearly 3,47,000 new toilets were constructed in the district. The plan, which has now become a showcase project of the state government, was carried out by district administration in collaboration with the Unicef.
According to a spokesperson for the Nadia district administration, “Unicef has since been engaged by the government to ensure that a branding and communication strategy is in place. The most important aspect of the scheme, apart from the actual construction of toilets, was to ensure that people had sufficient awareness,” he said.
Unlike the Centre’s plan, which has set 2019 deadline to have a toilet in each house, the West Bengal government has given each district the flexibility of setting up their respective milestones and the flexibility to declare the time within which they believe they can earn the ODF status.