Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday declared rural areas of the state open defecation-free and claimed the state has constructed the highest number of toilets in the country.
According to the baseline survey of 2012, around 55 per cent of the families in the state in rural areas did not have access to toilets, he said.
“In a period of just three and a half years, we have made available toilets to 55 per cent of the homes that did not have toilets. This exercise of constructing toilets spanned 34 districts, 351 talukas, 21,000 gram panchayats and 40,500 villages,” Fadnavis told reporters here.
Almost all homes (in rural parts) have access to toilets now, he said.
The second part of the ‘Swachh Maharashtra’ campaign would focus on encouraging people to use these toilets, Fadnavis said. For this, the government is conducting campaigns like ‘Darwaza band’ as well as using the “Good Morning squad” in rural areas to tackle open defecation, he added.
“Children in the squads will be armed with whistles and flowers to discourage people from open defecation. They will also be trained to ensure that womens’ dignity is not compromised with,” he said.
Fadnavis said 19.16 lakh toilets were constructed in 2016-17 and 22.51 lakh in 2017-18. Altogether 2.81 lakh common toilets have also been constructed, he said.
These toilets were jointly constructed by the Centre and the state government at a cost of Rs 4500 crore, Fadnavis said.
“I can say with confidence no other state has created as many toilets as we have in the last three and a half years,” he said.
President Ram Nath Kovind in October last year declared urban Maharashtra open defecation free. This announcement was made after all urban local bodies in Maharashtra were declared open defecation-free.