Karnataka achieves open-defecation free status in rural areas

On World Toilet Day being held on 19th November, the Rural development and Panchayat Raj department completes construction of over 45 lakh toilets across households in state

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Bengaluru: The state government of Karnataka has achieved open-defecation free status across the state’s rural areas. The Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, Government of Karnataka announced that all the 70.2 lakh rural households in the state have now been provided with individual toilets, thus reducing incidences of open defecation in the state.

The State Government had taken up an ambitious programme to become an “Open Defecation Free” State by 2018, a year ahead of the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. A massive campaign for the construction of individual toilets in all the families in rural Karnataka by the State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department was taken up on a war footing. The concerted efforts by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, together with the citizens of the state has added another feather in the Karnataka success story.

Announcing the news, Chief Minister of Karnataka, HD Kumaraswamy said, “While we have seen many improvements in the lives of the citizens of Karnataka, the access to a clean, hygienic toilet was a shortfall. Earlier statistics showed only half or one-third of the rural households had individual toilets. I commend the efforts of the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department which took this issue very seriously, and in a very short time, has taken the cleanliness and hygiene message to every household in our state, and has achieved open defecation free status. Our government taken the wishes of our beloved people seriously, and this is the proof.”

The chief minister also pointed out that while the central government had been pushing for swacch bharat and open defecation free, the state of Karnataka had actually taken up these measures proactively and had executed it ahead of time.

The Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, Dr G Parameshwara, said, “The government had undertaken a baseline survey and found that there were over 70 lakh rural households, but only about 25 lakh families had their own private toilet. The rest were dependent either on public restrooms or were resorting to open defecation. This needed our full and urgent attention. I am glad that the Rural development department has constructed these additional 45+ lakh toilets in a short time.”

Dr Parameshwara added that the programme to build toilets began in 2013-14, and a final push was made in 2018 to ensure the programme was achieved one year before the 150th year of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.

These 45 lakh toilets were built across Karnataka’s 6,022 Grama Panchayats, in all the 176 taluks of the state’s 30 districts. The enormous sanitation campaign has become successful with the help and cooperation of all the people.

Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, the honourable minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, said, “I must really extend my thanks to the people of the state. When our team visited the 6000 plus village panchayats, they gave their full support to the campaign and cooperated with our team. Rural Sanitation is an essential, absolutely fundamental right of our citizens and we are very happy we have achieved this. I hope this will have a positive impact on the health and hygiene of our citizens, and that fatal diseases and epidemics are a thing of the past. This is just one step towards a healthy, happy, Karnataka and I hope more such schemes with focus on putting people’s priorities first become a reality.”

Mr Gowda also added that this historical “Open Defecation Free” achievement in cleanliness and sanitation must be continued and rigorously followed. All sections of society must cooperate and contribute to making the State a model and thereby improving the quality of life. And that this will have a strong, positive impact on the lives of women and children.