90 out of 214 municipal wards declared ‘open defecation free’

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Abdul Wahab Khan | NT

PANAJI: Although civic bodies in state have declared 90 out of 214 municipal wards as ‘open defecation free’ (ODF), the actual number would be known by April-end after the due checks.

A ward can be declared as ODF if at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating in the open, necessary infrastructure is in place and regulatory conditions followed.

Local bodies are yet to follow a protocol for declaring wards as ODF. It includes obtaining self-declaration from every school and self-help group in the ward that every student and resident has access to toilet and nobody defecates in the open. Thereafter, the council will have to pass a resolution declaring the ward as ODF and publish it in a newspaper inviting objections and feedback within 15 days.

If no substantial objections are received then the civic bodies will have to adopt a final resolution and communicate it to the state government. The state government will then ensure that the claim of the council is verified by the Quality Council of India (QCI), as third party agency for certifying the protocol.

In the 124 municipal wards which have not been reported to be open defecation free, there are at least 177 spots used by people as open defecation grounds, a state-wide study revealed. Most of these spots are open fields and spaces, slums and along the water bodies.

Among the 14 municipal bodies, Margao, Mapusa, Bicholim, Mormugao, Ponda, Valpoi, Canacona, Sankhali and Quepem were leading with sizeable number of wards in which open defecation prevails. The survey was carried out by municipal bodies early morning and evening to provide real-time data on the problem of open defecation. The least number of wards where open defecation prevails is in CCP jurisdiction with five out of thirty wards followed by Pernem with only two out of ten wards.

Maintaining that none of the municipal councils have started the process for declaring wards as ‘open defecation free’ (ODF), an official of GSUDA, the nodal agency to implement the Swachh Bharat Mission, stated that the entire process will get completed by April-end and the actual number of ODF wards would be known only after third party inspection and verification.

“While civic bodies have reported 90 wards to be open defecation free, 124 wards still remain OD wards, we can’t rely on the figures provided by them and third party inspection and verification agency would reveal the truth,” the official added observing that steps are taken to speed up the process and get it completed by April-end.

As per the latest statistics, there are 163 seated community and public toilets constructed so far at the prominent places and there is a target to build more 600 seated community toilets and 300 seated public toilets and to provide 3011 bio-toilets to individual households to achieve the goal.

The GSUDA official said, “We will issue directions to all the local bodies to resort to warnings, followed by fines, to deter people from defecating in the open once the wards are declared as ODF. We have also started a campaign to dissuade people from open defecation,” he added.