Total sanitation under "Nirmal Himachal' by 2010

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Shimla, Jul 13 (UNI) Facing the challenges of rapid urbanization and growing pressure on infrastructural facilities do to increasing tourist rush, Himachal has set a target to achieve 'total sanitation 'under ''Nirmal Himachal' programme by 2010, an official spokesman today said.

The total sanitation campaign was already underway in the state and so far 632 Panchayats had been covered and made 'Open defecation Free' and a sum of Rs 101.43 crore had been allocated for the ambitious programme.

The spokesman said the unplanned urbanisation, improper disposal of solid waste and contamination of water sources due to toxic waste from fields and industries were causing environmental degradation and conservation of environment and keeping the natural resources like water and air, pollution free had emerged as a major challenge for planners and implementing authorities.

The state government has adopted a demand driven and people centric, result oriented approach to mobilize communities and generate awareness about sanitation amongst people individually and community as a whole by seeking active involvement of all the stakeholders, he said.

He said a total of 11,333 schools and 4,485 aanganbaris would be covered under the Total Sanitation Scheme during the project period and providing sanitation facilities in all the schools and aanganbaris would be top priority of the Government.

In order to motivate the Panchayati Raj Institutions and create competition, the state instituted an award titled ''Maharishi Balmiki Sampooran Swachhata Puruskkar,'' he said.

These awards had been split into four categories and the cleanest Panchayat in each Block, the cleanest gram Panchayat in the District, cleanest panchayat at Divisional level and cleanest panchayat in the state would be given cash award of Rs one lakh, Rs three lakh, Rs five lakh and Rs ten lakh respectively.

In bigger districts with more than 300 panchayats, more than one panchayat would be given the award.

The spokesman said the state had already banned the sale and use of recycled polythene bags under the Non Bio-degradable Waste (Control) Act, 1995 and defaulters were punishable with a fine up to Rs 25,000 and one month imprisonment.

The Hiamchal Government would also monitor the waste being thrown into the rivers and educate the people about the damage causes by it to the aquatic life and the hydroelectric projects coming up in the basin, he said.

The 2008 year has been declared as ''international year of sanitation'' and awareness campaign and sanitation rallies would be held to highlight the importance of sanitation in keeping the environment clean and maintaining hygienic conditions.

Further, workshops would also be held on solid waste management and the process of setting up Solid Waste Management Plant in different towns would be expedited, he added.

UNI AS HS BK1900

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