Imphal, March 30: The Narendra Modi government is aiming to make the entire country open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019 under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) programme. It is an ambitious plan that needs a lot of investment, work and monitoring by various government agencies.
The northeastern state of Manipur till recently had the dubious distinction of not having a single district that is ODF. On Tuesday, the state managed to clear itself from the ignominious tag as Senapati was officially declared as the first ODF district in Manipur at a function.
Bihar and Goa are the two other states in the country where not a single district is ODF. In February, the government informed the Lok Sabha that till date 11 states and union territories (UTs) have been declared ODF under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the Centre's flagship programme.
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched by PM Modi in 2014. The 11 states/UTs that have been declared as ODF are Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Gujarat, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Meghalaya.
"I am immensely pleased to declare Senapati as the first open defecation free district in the state", said a visibly happy-looking Losii Dikho, PHED minister of Manipur. He added that Senapati can be a role model for all other districts in the state. Out of the eight states in the northeastern region, only Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim are ODF states. Now, Manipur too is aiming to join the prestigious club of ODF states.
"Senapati district once had the highest number of bandhs and blockades in the State, but today it [Senapati district] has become very progressive and constructive changes are witnessed with the collective efforts of the people and the government", said the PHED minister.
A total of 27,755 low-cost latrines have been constructed at the cost of Rs 13,000 each under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Gramin) programme in Senapati district, stated reports.
"Along with building toilets, we are educating people as for why it is important to use them instead of defecating in the open. Some villagers understand the fact easily, but others take a while to use toilets. However, we are confident that soon entire Manipur will become ODF," said an official.