WB honour for sanitation startles DK

District ranks first in cleanliness programme, while plastic-free, pristine Sikkim comes 39

While the zilla panchayat is still basking in its achievement, questions and apprehensions have been raised over the parameters used to rank the districts as DK has been given 90 on 100 for implementing the Total Sanitation campaign, leaving behind as many as 593 districts in the country.

The ranking is published in the World Bank journal ‘A decade of the Total Sanitation Programme: Rapid assessment of process and outcomes’ brought out in April this year.
Kolhapur district in Maharasthra is in the second place with 88 marks. Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Thrissur in Kerala are in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth positions, respectively, with 85 marks.

Surprisingly, Sikkim considered to be the cleanest state in the country, stands nowhere in the first 10 ranks. West Sikkim is at rank 39 with 70 marks while ranks 61, 62 and 63 have been bagged by East, North and South Sikkim.
Sikkim had earlier won the State award for total sanitation and is a ‘plastic-free state’.

Methodology

World Bank adopted a three-step method for the study –– literature review, collection and analysis of secondary and primary data, including quantitative analysis of Total Sanitation Campaign status and trends, and study of sample districts. A total of 22 districts were taken as sample and Shimoga district was chosen from Karnataka. Dakshina Kannada district was not listed as the sample district.

The criteria for ranking are:  coverage (construction of toilets in the district), usage of government funds and Nirmal Gram Puraskar prize money, sustainability works taken up in the gram panchayats after the award, people’s participation, etc.

As startling as this is, the zilla panchayat records show that there were 21,673 houses in the district, which do not have toilets even after several awards were bestowed on the gram panchayats in Dakshina Kannada.

At present, 17,746 houses do not have toilets and construction of toilets is in progress in 3,927 houses.

As far as sustainability is concerned, Dakshina Kannada could not sustain the development model that was built in Ira Gram Panchayat, which made news even at the international level.

At present, Hosangadi GP is the model gram panchayat in the district and watchdogs of total sanitation drive say the district would have deserved 90 marks if at least 50 out of 203 GPs were working like the Hosangadi GP.

“If we were seriously sustaining the works, a model like Ira would have never collapsed. It would have been replicated,” says a critic, adding that ‘community-led movement’ was never the norm in the district and it had always been ‘individual-led programmes’ involving a bunch of elected representatives and not the common man.

With glaring loopholes and only a handful of GPs doing good work in this programme, if DK district is considered the best, then it is time the government brings the implementation of the Total Sanitation campaign under the scanner, say social activists.

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