Mumbai, April 22: Maharashtra government has decided to appoint 'swacchata doots' or cleanliness ambassadors in every village to help achieve the target of building 56 lakh toilets across the state over the next five years.
Half of them will be women and each cleanliness ambassador will be given an annual renumeration of Rs 22,000.
"Nearly 70 per cent of all illnesses in villages are caused due to contaminated water. One of the major reasons of water contamination is open defecation. Stray animals come in contact with the human excreta and subsequently pollute the water bodies, which ultimately leads to spread of diseases," state Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Babanrao Lonikar told PTI.
People living in villages cannot afford to install water purifiers at their homes and thus the only solution to the problem is to ensure that people do not defecate in the open.
"When villagers fall ill, they are forced to spend about Rs 1,000 on medicines. If hospitalised, the amount spent by them goes much higher," he said.
Therefore, to bring to an end the practice of open defecation in rural Maharashtra, the state plans to appoint 'swachhata doots'.
These ambassadors will be given the task of building toilets
"These ambassadors will be given the task of building toilets in their respective villages and ensuring that people stop defecating in the open. If any village has a large population, then more than one ambassador could be appointed," the minister said.
Citing an old survey, he said people from around 56 lakh houses in the state defecate in the open. "Next month, a new survey will be carried out. These numbers might swell up this time," he said.
According to Lonikar, each cleanliness ambassador will be given an annual renumeration of Rs 22,000. "They will receive half the money when the construction of a toilet is completed. The rest will be given after a year, if people in his area stop defecating in the open," he said.
The Centre will allocate Rs 9,000, while the state government would provide Rs 3,000 per toilet, he said.
"Each gram panchayat will have to suggest names for swachhata doots which will then be scrutinised by the deputy CEO and later by the government. The minimum qualification required to become an ambassador would be eighth standard pass. Half of these ambassadors will be women," Lonikar said.