51 urban areas become ‘open defecation free’ in Maharashtra

Mumbai, May 6 (IANS) Maharashtra’s 51 towns and cities out of 361 have been declared ‘Free of Open Defecation’ (ODF) since the launch of toilet construction programme in May 2015 and 50 more urban areas are set to join the list soon, union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu said here on Friday.

Reviewing the progress of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Mission initiative here, the minister, however, expressed disappointment that Maharashtra belied his expectations of becoming the first state in the country to be free of open defection.

“It was my earlier belief that Maharashtra would lead the country in becoming the first ODF (Open Defecation Free) state, but already Andhra Pradesh has declared that it will become ODF state by October 2, 2016,” said Naidu, who hails from Nellore, Andhra Pradesh.

Addressing 27 municipal commissioners and senior officers of urban local bodies, the minister said the government has so far released Rs.162 crore for the toilet construction programme and another Rs.417 crore is available during the mission period.

Frowning upon Maharashtra’s apparent slackness, the ministry has revealed that against a target of constructing 450,000 private household latrines till March 2017, work has begun on 270,000 latrines and only 199,000 have been completed.

Similarly, against the target of building 22,000 community and public toilet seats by March 2017, work has been taken up only on 6,072 seats and only 3,467 have been constructed till date.

On the solid waste management front, Naidu pointed out that of 59,400 metric tonnes installed capacity of compost plants in this state, only 12,071 million tonnes — or around 20 percent — were being produced.

While only one Waste To Energy Plant in Sholapur was functional, another was nearing completion in Pune. The minister urged the state government to build many more such plants.

He also asked the state to perform better on door-to-door waste collection since the service was available in only 561 of the total 7,054 wards in Maharashtra.

“I am given to understand that no funds have been taken from the Centre as of date, though there is a total of Rs.1,082 crore available over the mission period. I request you to kindly get projects approved expeditiously and approach the Centre for funds,” Naidu said.

Urging urban local bodies to focus on community-led thematic drives with citizen engagement programmes, Naidu said the mission would be a success only if it becomes a ‘jan andolan’ or a citizens’ movement.

He urged the state government to speed up the process and become an ODF state at the earliest in this regard.



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