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K'taka: Sanitation project to boost hygiene

Written by: Staff

Mysore, Apr 22: Hygiene and sanitation in the backward district of Chamarajanagara in Karnataka will get a boost when lavatory facilities will be provided to 1.37 lakh below poverty line (BPL) households under the Total Sanitation Campaign project.

The main aim of the Centrally-sponsored project, expected to be completed by 2009, was to eliminate open defecation and impart lessons in hygiene. It envisaged strong emphasis on information, education and communication to increase people's awareness on sanitary practices, health issues and usage of safe drinking water.

Chamarajanagara zilla panchayat would implement the project in all the 120 gram panchayats in the district.

Chamarajanagara ZP sources told UNI that the project would be implemented under the supervision of the ZP Chief Executive Officer.

The ZP Deputy Secretary would coordinate the programme, supported by project consultants and district officers. Village Water and Sanitation Committees have been made statutory bodies of the gram panchayats by amending the Panchayat Act. It was proposed to form such committees in all the villages under the community-based rural water supply and total sanitation campaign to facilitate smooth and speedy implementation of the project and take responsibility for operation and maintenance of water and sanitation facilities.

The sources said the project would also focus on self help groups to improve the health and hygienic status of women in rural areas.

According to the 2001 census, the sanitation coverage was only seven per cent in Karnataka, which had reportedly grown to 18 per cent in the last three years.

The situation was rather critical in the district. Of the 2.02 lakh families in the district, 1.73 lakhs were living in rural areas. Of the total 1.37 lakh BPL households, only 27,547 had individual toilets and among the 35,297 APL houses, only 6,500 had it, registering a total sanitation coverage of 19.67 per cent.

The State police had recognised the grave threat posed by HIV, particularly in Karnataka where over five lakh people were affected with AIDS. ''We are concerned about the gravity and implications of the epidemic on our force and their families and the communities within which we operate. Our aim is to reduce the fear of HIV/AIDS and to make a contribution towards minimising the social, economic and developmental consequences of the epidemic. The force realises that it is more useful for us to consider how we can reduce new infections within our force by engaging in HIV prevention activities more than how to keep people affected with HIV/AIDS out of the workplace,'' according to the policy.

The policy was a joint effort of NGOs and personnel putting their best efforts to create awareness about the dreaded disease. The organisations involved were NGO Constella Futures, Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS), Karnataka Network of Positive People (KNP+) and Avahan India AIDS initiative of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Additional Director General and Inspector General (Prisons) S T Ramesh, the main architect of the policy, said ''any act of discrimination or human rights violation by the police personnel results in driving the epidemic underground, thereby hindering the effective implementation of the HIV/AIDS programme of the Government and NGOs.''

Welcoming the launch of the policy, KSAPS Project Director Chakravarthi Mohan said ''the need of the hour is to get every department, every workplace to recognise the potential devastation that AIDS can cause in terms of human lives and make a common cause with KSAPS to halt the epidemic and reverse it.''

Former National Human Rights Commission Director General Shanker Sen said that ''as part of the uniformed services, we have the responsibility to safeguard and protect society from all kinds of dangers and hazards...launching the policy has reminded us that we are as vulnerable as the rest of the society and need to join the mainstream in the fight against it.'' According to official sources, neighbouring Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh were also expected to follow suit by coming out with such a policy.


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