President to Honour Panchayats for making their villages ‘Open-Defecation Free’ and Nirmal Villages

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INVC Bureau

New Delhi.Recognizing the fact that sanitation is one of the most critical aspects for better and improved life, Government of India has launched the Total Sanitation Campaign in the entire country. The Campaign is being led by the PRIs, focusing on ensuring a clean & hygienic environment in the rural areas. The Panchayati Raj Institutions that have attained full sanitation coverage and completely eliminated the practice of open defecation are awarded the prestigious Nirmal Gram Puraskar are every year.

2 Zilla Panchayat and 28 Block or Block/ Taluka Panchayats from Kerala, Karnataka, Mahrashtra and West Bengal would be awarded Nirmal Gram Puraskar 2009 for achieving total sanitation in their respective areas. President, Smt. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil will felicitate the awardees from these Panchayati Raj Institutions on Tuesday, the 17th November at a function in Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. The function will be chaired by Dr. C. P. Joshi, Union Minister, Rural Development while the Ministers of State Ms. Agatha Sangma, Shri Sisir Kumar Adhikari and Shri Pradeep Kumar Jain ‘Aditya’ will be the Guests of Honour and grace the occasion. About 5,400 Gram Panchayats shall also receive award in their respective States for NGP 2009. The function will be telecast live on Doordrashan and All India Radio.

In order to recognize, honour and encourage the Panchayati Raj Institutions, Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) was announced on 2nd October 2003, as a national award by the Government of India. A ‘Nirmal Gram’ is an “Open Defecation Free” village with all houses, schools and anganwadis having sanitary toilets and awareness amongst community on the importance of maintaining personal and community hygiene, good sanitation and clean environment. Panchayati Raj Institutions which have attained following criteria within their area of jurisdiction are eligible for the award:

i.) All households have access to sanitary toilets
ii.) All schools and anganwadis have access to toilet facility
iii.) The panchayats area is free from practice of open defecation
iv.) Clean environment is maintained

The NGP since its introduction has also created opportunity for rapid scaling up of Total Sanitation Campaign by strengthening the community action in the villages which has resulted in a large number of PRIs coming forward to make their villages ‘open-defecation free’. It has emerged as one of the empowering and motivational tools for the PRIs/ local community leaders to promote sanitation. The local community leaders have now taken up the challenge of eliminating the practice of open-defecation in their respective areas. Gandhiji aptly put the issues of proper sanitation along with providing literacy, housing, employment and clothing as an integral part of panchayati raj. Nirmal Gram Puraskar is turning his dream into a reality. Without the involvement of panchayats, the mission of ‘open-defecation free’ and clean rural India cannot be achieved. It is essential that the pradhans of the Gram Panchayats play a pivotal role in sanitation promotion as they reflect the will of the people at the grass-root level.

Over the years, the number of NGP awarded PRIs have increased. From a mere 38 Gram Panchayats and two Block Panchayats in 2005 to 28 Blocks and 2 District Panchayats in 2009. Sikkim has become the first Nirmal State in the country by achieving 100% rural sanitation coverage in 2008. NGP has created a country-wide enthusiasm and a competitive spirit amongst Gram Panchayats leading to accelerated achievements under the Government of India’s Total Sanitation Campaign.

Total Sanitation Campaign is now operational in 593 rural districts of the country. The campaign has an outlay of Rs. 17,885.55 crore out of which Rs. 11,094.03 crore is the Government of India’s share, Rs. 4,775.75 crore State share and the remaining Rs. 2,015.77 crore is the contribution from the individual beneficiaries. The unique approach to promote sanitation in rural areas, by building partnership and working together with the individual families – rural community- NGOs – PRIs – State Governments – Government of India partnership has resulted in construction of :
i.) 5.91 crore rural household, including 3.23 crore households below poverty line have their own toilets;
ii.) 17,018 sanitation complexes;
iii.) 9,30,343 school toilets; and
iv.) 2,92,420 Anganwadi toilets

The Campaign requires massive mobilization of all stakeholders. PRIs, key opinion leaders and NGOs working at the grassroots level who play a catalytic role in promoting sanitation. In order to seek their greater participation in the sanitation campaign, Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) has been a major incentive.

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