With 75% of its population having access to public toilets, Punjab would be first open defection free (ODF) state in the country. For the remaining 25% rural population toilets would be constructed in the mission mode by October 2017.
Minister for Water Supply and Sanitation, Punjab Surjit Singh Rakhra in a meeting with Secretary to Government of India department of water supply and sanitation Vijay Laxmi Joshi set the deadline.
According to Rakhra Punjab government has approved 'Punjab Rural Water and Sanitation Sector Improvement Project' (PRWSSIP) and this project would support the construction of 6.25 lakh individual household latrines (IHHL) in the rural areas. He said that the estimated unit cost of a household latrine would be Rs 15,000 and the state government would provide Rs 6,000 for each IHHL and rest is contributed by the central government.
Joshi lauded the efforts of the Punjab government in realising the dream of Swachh Bharat Mission in its true spirit. She assured the state government that there would be no shortage of funds.
Earlier reviewing the activities under Swachh Bharat Mission in Punjab Joshi had video conferencing session with all the deputy commissioners. She was amused to know that the per cent of usage of toilets among the women in Punjab is higher than the men.
Additional Chief Secretary, Water Supply and Sanitation, Punjab Suresh Kumar said that the main focus of the state government while making the toilets for the rural folks has been to generating awareness among them about the ill effects of the open defection and persuade them to use the toilets. He said that to roll out the Action Plan of Swachh Bharat Mission the state government has constituted a state sanitation cell headed by Director Sanitation whereas in all the 22 districts, District Level Sanitation Cells have been formed under the chairmanship of Executive Engineers. He said that Block Sanitation teams have been formed in 146 Blocks comprising of three members.
He informed that Punjab has made noteworthy progress in increasing rural household toilet coverage. He pointed out that in 2001, Punjab had 27 lakh rural households, of which 11 lakh (41%) reported access to toilets. By 2011, the number of rural household increased to 33 lakh, of this 23 lakh (70%) reported access to toilets.