Even as toilet has become an issue of national debate with leaders interpreting personal hygiene in their own way, the fact remains that 64 per cent of Indians defecate in the open. But it seems the issue has not caught the attention of Sambalpur district administration.
According to sources, not a single Individual Household Latrine (IHHL) under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) has been constructed in the district till date though the scheme was launched in October last year.
The NBA was launched with a broader goal to provide toilet facilities in rural areas and eradicate open defecation practice making the rural mass hygiene conscious.
The provision of IHHL is for both Below Poverty Line and Identified Above Poverty Line households covering Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, small and marginal farmers, landless labourers with homestead land, physically challenged and families headed by women, living without toilets in a gram panchayat.
As per the provisions, the IHHL of 0.90 metre by 1.20 metre would be constructed at an estimated cost of ` 10,000 with funding from both the Central and the State Governments besides contribution from the beneficiaries and MGNREGA. Priority is given to the gram panchayats having functional piped water supply.
About 60 per cent of rural households in the district are devoid of toilet facility but no effort has been made to change the scenario.
The Total Sanitation Campaign was launched with great hype in the district and demo toilet was also constructed at the Collectorate to encourage people to use toilets and abstain from open defecation. But, its result is far from encouraging.
Admitting that not a single IHHL under NBA has been constructed in the district, Consultant of District Water and Sanitation Mission Lingraj Dash said they have already identified 2,901 beneficiaries in nine revenue villages in eight blocks of the district for the purpose.
Respective Block Development Officers will issue work orders for construction of IHHL in these villages from first week of November, he added.