MUMBAI: Maharashtra declared itself an open defecation free (ODF) state, by providing access to toilets to all its residents, on April 18. In a press conference, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said,”In October 2017, the state declared its urban areas as ODF and now, rural Maharashtra has followed suit.”
“It is an astounding achievement for a government and for a government scheme. In 65 years since Independence, only 45% of the population could be provided access to toilets but in just three-and-half years we have covered the remaining 55%,” he added.
The ODF programme was started under Swachh Bharat mission with October 2, 2019 deadline.
According to data presented by the Centre, an area is declared ODF if 95% of the population has a toilet or access to it within 100 meters from the household. CM Fadnavis claimed that the government has spent Rs 4500 crore and, built 22.51 lakh toilets in 2017-18 and 5.5 million toilets between October 2014 and 31 March 2018.
After completing the first phase work, government has started doing work on the second phase which is to ensure people do not defecate in open. Campaigns like ‘good morning squads’, ‘whistle squads’ and ‘Darwaja bandh’ (close the door) have been started to persuade people to use toilets.
Fadnavis said that the Maharashtra government discovered that more than 6 million families did not have access to toilets in 2014. In just three-and-half years, they have covered all 34 districts of Maharashtra, 351 tehsils, and 40,500 villages.