The Uttar Pradesh government has again extended the date of declaring the entire state Open Defecation-Free (ODF) by another month — December 31.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan from the Red Fort in Delhi on August 15, 2014 and the deadline for declaring the entire country ODF was October 2, 2019.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had initially announced that the entire state would be declared ODF on October 2. However, earlier this week, the Chief Minister had extended the deadline to declare the state as ODF to November 30. Now the state government has further extended the deadline to December 31.
UP’s Minister of State for Panchayati Raj, Bhupendra Choudhury, in a press conference here on Friday said that though 99.7 per cent of the rural areas had been covered with toilets against the national average of 94.69 per cent, it would require at least three months to declare the entire state ODF.
Lauding the effort of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and officials of his department, the minister said that between April 1, 2017 and October 4 this year, the state government had constructed 1.41 crore toilets in the rural areas. He pointed out that to date, 82,863 villages and 30 districts had been declared ODF by the government.
The minister said that the construction of toilets and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan had controlled vector-borne diseases like Acquired Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), Japanese Encephalitis (JE), diarrhoea an jaundice in the last two years.
“While the number of AES patients, which was 2,118 in 2016, came down to 970 in 2018, there was not a single case of JE in 2018 against 47 cases in 2016. Similarly, there were 2,168 cases of diarrhoea in 2016 and they came down to 900 in 2018. There were 43 patients of acute jaundice in 2016 but in 2018 there was no such case,” he said.
The minister also said that UP stood first in construction of toilets in the country and had been awarded by the Centre on October 2 for its achievement. He said the award was given to UP by President Ram Nath Kovind on the basis of results of the Sanitation Survey (Rural) for people’s participation in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Choudhury, the minister for implementation of the programme and ensuring people’s participation in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, said over 500 training programmes were organised across the state and an army of 60,000 sanitation volunteers was raised for bringing behavioural and attitudinal change among the rural people.
Besides, he said, IEC (information, entertainment, communication) campaign was also launched in which LED vans were deployed, nukkad nataks (street plays), wall righting, hoarding and door-to-door contact were conducted.