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Sunday, 3 May 2015

West Bengal rolls out own version of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

State calls the initiative by a new name -- Mission Nirmal Bangla -- as CM Mamata doesn't like the term coined by PM Modi

Narendra Modi, West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee too wants her state to be clean. However, she does not like the name "Swachh Bharat Abhiyan" very much. That is why, the state government has given the Centrally-aided programme a new name in West Bengal-- Mission Nirmal Bangla.

Mission Nirmal Bangla is an offshoot of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, but conceived in a new avatar in West Bengal. Mission Nirmal Bangla was launched by the West Bengal government in concurrence with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on October 2 2014, when all its existing sanitation projects were brought under the scheme. While the Nirmal Bangla Project draws financial support from the plans sanctioned to states under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the state government has set its own target and administrative mechanism in place, putting forth a healthy competition towards cleanliness.
In less than a year's time, West Bengal has reason to boast. On 30th April, 2015, Nadia becoming the first Indian district to earn Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.
Nadia launched an aggressive sanitation project in October 2, 2013, under the name Sobar Swachaghar or everyone's toilet. In close to 18 months, nearly 347,000 toilets were built in the district. The plan, which has now become a showcase project of the state government, was carried out by district administration and UNICEF.
"An intensive planning and monitoring system made Nadia sanitation project a success story. We involved multiple stake holders, including SHGs and school children, which all created a peer pressure. There was strong monitoring system in place, through weekly review programmes and GIS monitoring. When we started there were not more than ten sanitary marts. By March 2015, there were 109 sanitary marts," said S N Dave, an UNICEF official in charge of the programme.
Taking Nadia as a model, UNICEF was engaged by the government to conceptualize and prepare a branding, and communication strategy, among other things, to launch the Nirmal Bangla Project along the same time when the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched.
Nationally, projects to build toilets were launched in 2000 uner the Total Sanitation Campaign. In 2012, the Union government launched the Nirmal Bharat Programme, which entailed a subsidy of Rs 500 for building toilets. The subsidy was to be shared in 70:30 ratio between the Central and state government. Subsequently, the subsidy element was raised to Rs 3200 and then to Rs 10000, available to people below poverty line. However, of the total subsidy of Rs 10000, Rs 5400 was to come from NREGS funding.
In 2014, when the Central government launched the Swacha Bharat mission, the subsidy amount was increased to Rs 12,000. It also included new categories of beneficiaries, like SC/ST, women-headed families, small and marginal farmers and families who have a physically challenged person. Under the mission, which has been renamed as Nirmal Bangla is West Bengal, 75 per cent of funding comes from the central government.
Also, unlike Central government plan, which as set 2019 deadline to have a toilet in each house, West Bengal has set its own milestones. Thus, each district has been given flexibility to declare the date by which they can become ODF area.
Thus, while Nadia has been declared ODF area in 2015, the state hopes four more districts to achieve similar feat by 2016. At present, the state's coverage of in sanitation programme is nearly 62 per cent in rural areas.
To celebrate the success of the efforts in Nadia, 30 April will be observed as Nirmal Bangla Divas across West Bengal.

Source: Business Standard, 2nd May 2015 

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