GUWAHATI, Oct 6 - Assam bagged a special award – for its standout performance in the North East region – in the recently-concluded Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018 conducted throughout the country by the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen.
The award was presented by Uma Bharti, Union Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation at an event organised on the occasion of Rashtriya Swachhata Divas held at the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra, New Delhi on October 2, according to a statement received here on Friday.
Swachh Survekshan Grameen is a survey conducted for rural cleanliness in order to rank all districts and States on the basis of qualitative and quantitative evaluation. The ranking is based on a comprehensive set of cleanliness parameters, survey of public places, citizens’ perception of ‘swachhata’ (cleanliness) and their recommendations for the improvement of the programme, and data from the Swachh Bharat Mission in rural areas.
In its four-year journey, the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), Assam, has been massively successful in construction of toilets across the State. Though the pace of the mission was a little slow in the initial stages, the momentum and scale of the mission has grown exponentially since 2016. Like the rest of the country, sanitation became the topmost priority of the Government in Assam.
Comparing the physical progress of the State, only 172 villages were open-defecation free (ODF) till mid-2016, while at present, 20,324 villages have been declared ODF and the mission has reached out to 51.38 lakh rural families with toilet facilities. Moreover, 24 districts at present are 100 per cent ODF and the State seems to be just a few months away from becoming an ODF State. Much of this success can be attributed to the efforts made by the District Water and Sanitation Committees and the Mission Directorate.
So far, Assam has initiated a number of innovative ideas which have contributed to the mission’s success. Some of the notable milestones of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Assam have been the Cleanest Village Award, Daan Toilet, and Mission Sambhav which covered 33 districts, reaching out to one lakh families, and which initiated the construction of 1,12,748 toilets on a single day, out of which 994 were donated.
Some of the other initiatives include Ascosan, the first-ever State-level conference on sanitation organised in February 2017, and Ajanite Mone Mone, the first-ever regional movie on sanitation.
The sanitation picture of Assam has changed significantly in the past two years. Compared to an approximate 6 lakh toilets provided in 2014-16, a total of 20,87,012 toilets have been provided to the public between May 2016 to June 2018. Irrespective of social and economic standings, the mission has been successful in shaping the aspirations of the people to live in a clean and sensitised environment. The approaches undertaken by the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), Assam were more focused on social behavioural change communication rather than just the construction of toilets. As per an independent survey conducted by the Union Government, the usage of toilet stands more than 95 per cent.