One of India’s biggest problem-the practice of open defecation-would be totally abolished in 10 years and Sikkim would soon be the first Indian state to be rid of the practice, said Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.
He was speaking to mediapersons here on Sunday, on his visit to Yelheri village to inspect the construction of toilets under the Parishudh project undertaken by the Infosys Foundation.
Only 10 per cent of the 2,40,000 Gram Panchayats are Nirmal Gram Panchayats, that is those with toilet facilities, Ramesh lamented.He also said that to achieve the goal of eradicating the practice, a comprehensive programme Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan was launched in 1999 to ensure sanitation facilities in rural areas.
To implement the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, Rs 3,500 crore will be spent in 2012-13 and Rs 35,000 crore has been allocated in the Five Year Plan from 2012-13 to 2016-17, he said.He added that more than 50 per cent rural areas in Karnataka do not have surface drinking water facility.
The Ministry has also set a target of five years to make the state Nirmal Karnataka. At present only 20-22 per cent panchayats in the state can be termed Nirmal panchayats, he added.
“The Centre has allotted 30,000 tonnes of wheat and rice to Karnataka in addition to the state’s allocation for the year,” he added. He also said that the food grain subsidy of Karnataka for 2012-13 is Rs 4,224 crore and additional allocation amounts to Rs 426 crore.
Regarding the state governments reported failure to submit audit reports and utilisation certificates of the MGNREG Act he said that the department is in the process of receiving the reports. He said that the Centre has already released Rs 720 crore for the scheme.