Open Defecation: Centre Suggests Linking Water, Sanitation Depts

The Centre has made a suggestion to the states to merge their Water and Sanitation departments with an aim to give a push to the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, which seeks to make the country free of open defecation by 2019.

The advice from the Centre to the states comes in light of the Narendra Modi government's stress on sanitation.

The Centre has asked the states to step up the efforts to make the country open-defecation free by 2019 as that would be a "fitting tribute" to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary that year.

In a communication to the state chief secretaries, the Centre has sought better coordination between the Drinking Water and Sanitation departments to effectively deal with water and sanitation issues in rural areas.

"To achieve 'Swachh Bharat', it may be better to have the same department at the state level to deal with water and sanitation issues," it said.

Yearly action by the states needs to be stepped up to at least three or four times that of the current levels in order to achieve the goal of 'Swachh Bharat' (Clean India), says the communication signed by Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry Secretary Pankaj Jain.

"In case that is not immediately possible, then better coordination between two departments at the state level may kindly be done," it said.

In his Independence Day speech, Modi pitched for efforts to build toilets to do away with the need for women to defecate out in the open.

He urged parliamentarians and the corporate sector to help build separate toilets by next year for girls in schools across the country.

"We are in the 21st century. Have we ever been pained by the fact that even today our mothers and sisters have to defecate in open? Dignity of women. Isn't that a responsibility of everybody?

"Women and sisters wait for dusk. Until then they cannot relieve themselves. How much pain their body will be going through? How many diseases they must be prone to? Can't we make provisions for a toilet for the dignity of our mothers and sisters," Modi had said in his speech.

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