The Rural Development Department of Odisha has taken the Swachh Bharat Mission to another level with a vision to construct 79 lakh toilets by 2019 and to make almost 15,000 villages open defecation free within the current financial year. Madhusudan Padhi, Principal Secretary, Rural Development, Government of Odisha, talks about how they plan to undertake sanitation projects in the remotest parts of rural Odisha in an interview with Namita Panda of Elets News Network (ENN). Excerpts:
The Rural Development Department of Odisha has won praise for making around 2000 villages open defecation free (ODF) in a very short time. Tell us about the endeavour.
So far, 1,842 villages in the state have been declared as ODF. These include 113 gram panchayats and an entire block of Kashinagar in Gajapati district. All families in these villages have a toilet and in some regions, there are community toilets too. Already 14.6 lakh toilets have been set up, of which 2 lakh toilets were constructed this year alone.
How significant is the Swachh Bharat Mission in the context of Odisha? How is the Rural Development Department taking the mission forward?
Sanitation and hygiene have been long standing demands of the state, especially in thousands of villages with open defecation that has several health implications like malaria, dengue, jaundice and diarrhea. Many regions in the state are prone to these diseases and hence it is all the more important to make villages ODF. Thus in Odisha, Swachh Bharat has several components like ODF, liquid and solid waste management, community sanitary facilities in market places and public areas, safe drinking water, etc. In fact, water and sanitation are the critical elements due to the absorption factor in food security. The department has laid down region specific strategy in this regard.
What is the budget and action taken towards providing better sanitation facilities in the rural areas?
We have a budget of over Rs 11,300 crores for the next three years to construct sanitation facilities. The centre-state ratio for the budget is 60:40. We will be constructing around 26 lakh toilets this year. We are also eyeing to set up about 2500 sanitary complexes. Our project implementation plan (PIP) has been approved at the National Scheme Sanctioning Committee (NSSC) as has been the annual implementation plan (AIP) of Rs 2815.27 crore presented by the State Government.
We have a budget of over Rs 11,300 crores for the next three years to construct sanitation facilities. The Centre-State ratio for the budget is 60:40. We will be constructing around 26 lakh toilets this year.
Please share the vision regarding sanitation and hygiene for Odisha and initiatives taken towards it.
The vision is to construct 79 lakh toilets by 2019 and also to make almost 15,000 villages ODF within the current financial year. We are first prioritising construction of toilets in mission mode. The collectors, block development officers, engineers have their region specific approach and strategy to make the local community aware about dangers of open defecation and use of toilets. We are providing `12,000 to each household for setting up toilets.
What challenges does the department face when it comes to implementation of sanitation measures and projects?
Providing safe drinking water and other water facilities has been a constant challenge. But most of all, convincing the rural communities was difficult. But we have more or less overcome this phase. In fact, now our total sanitation approach has taken up the shape of a movement which is community-led in most areas.
Recently, the department has taken initiatives in mining-hit areas of the state. What steps have been taken on that front?
Last month, we launched a project with a budget of Rs 900 crores to make available drinking water in these areas. For the first phase of piped drinking water supply construction, funds to the tune of Rs 243 crores have been released by the Odisha Mineral Bearing Area Development Corporation (OMBADC), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) .