State performs miserably in sanitation drive

State performs miserably in sanitation drive

People can afford mobiles, but are unwilling to build toilets: Shettar

honoured: Awardees Jayalakshmamma (Attinagavi GP, Chamarajanagar), Mallavava Mailarappa Elishattar (Hulikoti GP, Gadag), Bharati B Chowdappanavar (Kolahara GP, Bijapur), Mehabubi Kaladagi (Samshi GP, Dharwad) and Kankemma (Chennahalli GP, Raichur) after receiving the Nirmal Gram Puraskar in Bangalore on Tuesday. dh Photo

As recently as last year, a young girl of Yeshwantpur in Bangalore city went out to defecate, and was in the process raped and murdered.

With the Centre and State governments channelising funds to encourage people in rural India to build toilets at home, Karnataka among many states stands shamed as it has failed to convince a large number of people to use toilets.

Less than 50 per cent of the target set under the Total Sanitation Campaign programme
in the year 2009-10 has been achieved by the State government, forcing policy makers to think out of the box.

‘No toilets, no girls’

Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Jagadish Shettar did just that by appealing to religious institutions and seers to help change the mindset of the people. He also recommended that parents should not get their daughters married to grooms who had no toilets in their houses.

Addressing the gathering during the presentation of the Nirmala Grama Puraskars to 121 gram panchayats in the City on Tuesday, Shettar said it was unfortunate that most villagers had the accessibility to mobile handsets and not toilets.

“The villagers have the money to buy mobile handsets, and despite the State government granting as much as Rs 3,000 for construction of toilets, people aren’t willing to change their habits,” he said.

He also appealed to the one lakh elected representatives to set an example to the people by constructing and using toilets in their houses.

Governor H R Bhardwaj appreciated the State government's efforts in making this programme a success. He strongly advocated devolution of more funds to rural areas for provision of basic amenities, so that the standard of living of the rural people improved.
“The national target and Mahatma Gandhi's dream of creating equal comforts for both the rural and urban people have to be fulfilled,” he added.

The department of RD&PR has so far spent Rs 285 crore out of the five year budget of Rs 589 crore for construction of toilets across the State. Officers said that since 2005, 38 lakh toilets have been constructed out of the targeted 58 lakh. Of the 5,628 gram panchayats, 1,020 have been presented with the Nirmala Grama Puraskar till date.

The panchayats that ensure that all households, schools, anganwadis in their panchayat have access to toilets, and effectively execute solid and liquid waste management, will be eligible for the award.