Entire Nation Will Be Open-Defecation Free By 2019 Lok Sabha Polls: Govt

| January 22 , 2018 , 08:08 IST

The biggest flagship project launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to make the nation open-defecation free (ODF), is likely to be completed before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, say government officials.

Although urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said that his ministry is expected to hit the target of making India ODF a year before the October 2019 deadline, and the sanitation ministry expects to hit the target by December 2018.

Open-Defecation, which takes place in rural as well as urban areas due to an insufficient number of toilets and a fixed mindset, gives host to numerous problems, such as lack of hygiene, health complications, lack of safety for women and spread of diseases.

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However, apart from building toilet facilities, a change in the mindset of people, especially those in rural areas is also needed.

"We have taken up both building toilets and behaviour change simultaneously in villages by involving people, motivators, local champions and village leaders. You can't expect people to use toilets unless they have one. We are well on track," said a senior official of the drinking water and sanitation ministry.

"Over 5.9 crore toilets have been built and nearly 30 crore rural Indians have stopped defecating in the open since the launch of the mission. 290 districts in seven states of Sikkim, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh have become open defecation free," said the official.  

"We are expecting another 8-10 states to become ODF by March, taking the total to about 18-20. We expect 400 districts to be ODF by March," he added.