New Delhi, March 27, 2012: Having achieved full sanitation coverage, Himachal Pradesh is on the verge of acquiring the status of a “Nirmal Pradesh”- the second state after Sikkim to get the distinction.
However, the country will miss its 2017 target for achieving total sanitation coverage as the government today said that it would take at least 10 more years before all villages can boast of “Nirmal Gram Panchayat” status and completely eradicate the practice of open-air defecation.
Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Jairam Ramesh told the Rajya Sabha that it usually takes about a year to make a village a “Nirmal Gram Panchayat.”
As per the Census data, only 28,000 of 2.60 lakh gram panchayats in the country have so far achieved complete sanitation, clearly indicating that states are not taking the task seriously. Incidentally, the data provided by states show 68 per cent sanitation coverage but according to the minister the latest Census pegs the figure at around 33 per cent for the entire country.
“I tend to believe Census numbers...We have to go a long way before we achieve total sanitation,” Ramesh said. Total Sanitation Campaign was initiated in 1999 to ensure sanitation facilities in rural areas and eradicate the practice of open-air defecation by 2017. To give fillip to this endeavour, the government also launched Nirmal Gram Puraskar to recognise the efforts in terms of cash awards for fully covered panchayati raj institutions and those individuals who have contributed significantly in ensuring full sanitation coverage in their area of operation.
* Himachal will be the second state after Sikkim to get the tag of Nirmal Pradesh as it has successfully eradicated the practice of open-air defecation.
* The country will take another 10 years to achieve total sanitation; will miss its 2017 target. Only 28,000 of 2.60 lakh gram panchayats in India have so far achieved complete sanitation, clearly indicating that states are not taking the task seriously. (Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh)