Sunday , 18 November 2018
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Set A Realistic Date To Make Goa ODF

IT is now almost certain that the state will miss the October 2, 2018 deadline to make Goa totally open defecation free. The Goa State Waste Management Corporation (GSWMC) is still waiting for the report from the panchayat department on the requirement of toilets in rural areas. The panchayat department, which had completed a survey of households in five blocks in March this year, is yet to complete the survey in the remaining seven blocks, though it had promised to do so by May-end. The panchayat department has now said that the report of the survey is likely to be ready by next week. It is only after getting the data that the GSWMC can start the process and go ahead with the tendering process and constitute a committee of experts to study the specifications of bio-toilets. By the time the numbers are made available and the due process is followed, the GSWMC would be left with just three months to complete the project, which appears impossible.

Scarcity of land came in the way of constructing conventional RCC toilets, so the government came up with the idea of installing bio-toilets, which require lesser space and take even lesser time for installation. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar put the figure of bio-toilets required to around 75,000 including 3,100 in urban areas. Each of the bio-toilet is estimated to cost Rs 45,000 and the state would have to pay over Rs 330 crore for providing a toilet to each house to make Goa open defecation free (ODF). The government did not specify how it is going to raise funds for the scheme. Even if the funds are made available it would be humanly impossible to construct 75,000 toilets in about three months as it means construction of over 800 toilets a day. If the government sticks to the date there is possibility of work being hurriedly carried out compromising the quality and the toilets could become a waste. The number of bio-toilets needed might also be more. A bio-toilet can cater to a family with six members. The government would have to provide additional toilet for a family with more than six members. The number of such families could be in thousands.

The government fixed October 2 as the deadline to make Goa total ODF. However, for strange reasons it took away the responsibility of installing bio-toilets from the Goa State Urban Development Agency and the panchayat department and handed it to the GSWMC, which has to make a new beginning to implement the project. The GSWMC, however, would not have to scout for the type of toilet that needs to be installed as the government has already chosen the bio-toilet with bio-digester tank developed by the DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation). The GSWMC would have to only look out for the contractors who have expertise in installation, operation and maintenance of the bio-toilets. The GSWMC must follow the norms and call for bids to select the lowest bidder who has the expertise and fits the other criteria laid down by the government. Notwithstanding the deadline, the GSWMC would have to keep itself ready for execution of the work and kickstart the process as soon as the data is made available by the panchayat department. As the government has not provided funds, the GSWMC would have to raise funds on its own, which should not be difficult as it is a government-owned corporation.

The government has chosen bio-toilets for installation as they are affordable, easy to maintain and can help save water. However, it could run into trouble over the acceptance of bio-toilets by public, as most of the people who are used to conventional ways might not easily accept it. To ensure that the people do not reject the new technology toilets, the government would have to first create awareness among the people on the use and benefits of such toilets. As a bio-toilet can be used by a family of upto six members, the GSWMC needs to bring on its list also the families having more than six members and work out plans to explore availability of space for installing additional toilets. The GSWMC would have to keep contribution from the house owners minimal to ensure greater acceptability. However, a number of houseowners have constructed cubicles and rented them out to tenants. The entire cost of construction of additional toilets in such cases should be recovered from the houseowners. With the deadline sure to be missed, it now remains to be seen which date government sets to make Goa ODF.

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