September 29, 2015
Mamata brings ‘toilets for all’ plan to the Sunderbans
After making Nadia the first ‘open defecation free’ district in the country, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is all set to implement the Sabar Shouchagar (toilets for all) model in the Sunderbans, a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Sunderbans, a tourist hub, has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO for its rich biodiversity and is a home to the famed Royal Bengal Tiger.
Located in South 24-Parganas district of West Bengal, it is a vast area covering 4,262 sq km including a mangrove cover of 2,125 sq km in India alone, with a larger portion in Bangladesh.
The district administration of Kolkata’s adjoining South 24-Parganas has embarked upon the project by selecting 13 out of 29 blocks for the cleanliness drive.
“We have selected 13 inaccessible rural blocks of the Sunderbans region to transform them into open defecation free areas. Slowly, we will also work in other 16 blocks,” South 24-Parganas district magistrate said.
“We have also decided to make Sagar Island an open defecation free area by January, before the Ganga Sagar Mela. In 2007, when I was an additional district magistrate here I had thought of implementing it. This time, we have been able to do that successfully,” the district magistrate said.
He further said that this time the Sagar mela (to be held early next year) will be a completely plastic-free zone as well.
“Understanding the importance of eliminating open defecation, we had decided to accord highest priority to sanitation. We built about 3,55,609 toilets in Nadia over a period of time”, said Salim.
The district leadership of Nadia also took a collective decision on October 2, 2013 and launched an innovative Sabar Shouchagar movement.
The district ensured 100 percent sanitation coverage by March 2015. Later, the model was taken up by the state government for implementation in each and every district.
Published on Daily Mail dated 28 September 2015