Maharashtra cities declared ODF, CM says will shame people who defecate in open
All 384 cities and towns of Maharashtra were declared open defecation free (ODF) by President Ram Nath Kovind at a function in Mumbai on Sunday.
The state government admitted that the announcement comes with the challenge of maintaining the status quo and changing the habits of people.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government had put in place monitoring system to check on open defecation, which will be continued for the next six months.
“ODF is only the first step towards the target. It doesn’t mean we are free from open defecation unless the habits of people change. We have decided to continue OD watch (system for monitoring and curbing open defecation with local squads) for the next six months, which will encourage people to use toilets as well as shame them if found defecating in the open,” said Fadnavis.
“Fulfilling the objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission will be the real tribute for Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary,” the President said at a function organised to declare urban Maharashtra as ODF at NSCI, Worli. “Ensuring sustainability of open defecation would be the real challenge, which I hope will be sustained in Maharashtra.”
Fadnavis sais the state has to achieve the target of complete solid waste management by segregation and processing of garbage in the next two years.
The state’s rural development minister, Pankaja Munde, said rural Maharashtra will be open defecation free by March next year. He said they have achieved the target of building toilets in 88% of households in rural areas.
However, Hindustan Times on Sunday witnessed and captured photographs of people defecating in the open in Mumbai at various places including Mankhurd, Antop Hill, Mahim Causeway and Somaiya ground - to name a few.
The city had been declared ODF in 2016 and 2017 but authorities always offered conditions to such claims. BMC, for instance, has said only areas in its jurisdiction were ODF but they would not vouch for the land under the Central government or railways.
However, HT found open defecation being practised on Sunday on BMC land as well.
The state government provides Rs 17,000 to build one toilet each and there is a three-tiered mechanism to verify its strict implementation, at least on paper.
However, officials admitted that ensuring that people use the toilets built in their own houses instead of defecating in the open is a challenge. Thus, a monitoring system called ‘OD-Watch’ was introduced to keep a check on such people.
The local bodies have formed task forces, which take rounds at open-defecation spots twice a day.