KONNUR (GADAG ): Hailing the public response to the nation’s call against open defecation, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said the number of Indians defecating in the open in rural and urban areas is estimated to have come down to 30 crore from about 60 crore in 2014. Declaring Nargund of Gadag district the first open defecationfree (ODF) taluk in Karnataka on Tuesday, Naidu said over 2.45 lakh villages, 1,300 cities, 200 districts and five states have been declared ODF so far. All the villages along the banks of the Ganga have been declared ODF.
He pointed out that over 5 crore toilets have been constructed in rural and urban areas in the last couple of years. There is still some distance to cover and the nation is committed to achieving open defecation-free status by October 2019, he added. Appreciating the performance of Karnataka on this front, the Vice-President said the household sanitation coverage in the state was only 30 per cent in 2014. Since then, the state has showed a remarkable progress in achieving over 72 per cent coverage today.
“The programme called ‘Shouchalayakkaagi Samara’ (Crusade for Toilets) is being implemented across Karnataka as a peoples’ movement to stop open defecation. I compliment the Government of Karnataka on the same. I am sure ‘Swachhta Hi Seva’ campaign will give a big thrust to Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan”, he said. He said: “Sanitation is more important than freedom. It is not the programme of either the Congress or the BJP, but of all people. ‘Ram Rajya’ is incomplete without ‘gram rajya’. If villages are clean with good roads, doctors, tractors and actors will come. Otherwise, nobody will care. Don’t worry about who has done it whether (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi or (Chief Minister) Siddaramaiah. It is the collective effort of all the GP members, officials and villagers.”
Naidu counts achievements of Karnataka
* Teenager Lavanya had observed a three-day fast demanding toilets in each house in her village. She finally called it off when the officials promised her to construct toilets in the village
* Sharanamma, a 45-year-old vegetable vendor, has been giving away one kg tomatoes for free to each house that has constructed a toilet at Dhanapur village in Koppal district
* 16-year-old Mallamma of Koppal district recently went on a hunger strike to pressure her mother to build a toilet at home
* Akkamma Harawal, an SHG member from Gulbarga who also represented the ‘Swachh Shakti’ in March 2017 in New Delhi, motivated communities to build and use toilets
* Tanuja Gouda who hails from Uttar Kannada district and comes from an all-women household, dug a toilet pit all by herself