RAYAGADA: Despite massive awareness campaign, open defecation continues to be practised across the tribal-dominated Rayagada district.During a review meeting on Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) chaired by Collector Guha Poonam Tapas Kumar here on Tuesday evening, it was revealed that many people still stick to their old habit of defecating in the open despite having their own individual household latrines (IHHL), much to the surprise and dismay of the district officials.
The meeting was informed that drives to sensitise people about the hazardous effects of open defecation have failed to reduce the menace. People in many areas of the district are ignoring the hazards and continue to defecate in the open. Apart from creating an unhygienic atmosphere for others, these violators are also inviting diseases linked to open defecation.
After the dismal facts came to fore, Collector Guha Poonam along with a team of district SBM officials reached Tikarpada village under Halua panchayat at around 5 am on Wednesday morning to educate locals on hazards of open defecation besides assessing the ground situation and condition of IHHLs.
Guha Poonam and her team met Meenarao, a local, on the outskirts of the village who was on his way to defecate in the open with a Lota (water container). Meenarao said he felt uncomfortable in the IHHL and prefers defecating in the open. The SBM team then explained to him about the hazards of the menace.
The Collector also offered Meenarao a rose and urged him to use the IHHL besides encouraging other villagers to do the same. Later, Meenarao promised that he would stop the unhygienic practice and always use the toilet. To encourage locals to use IHHL, Guha Poonam said the SBM team will pay morning visits to villages and present gifts like pen and flower to people practising open defecation.
Sources said 1,26,837 IHHLs have been constructed in the district against 1,88,324, which is 67.35 per cent of the target. Rayagada district is placed eighth in the State in construction of IHHL. Notably, Guha Poonam Tapas Kumar was the Collector of Deogarh when the district was declared the first in Odisha to become open defecation free.