Urban Maharashtra free of open defecation?

The state gives open defecation free status to areas which have access to toilets.

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government is now set to declare urban areas in the state as Open Defecation Free (ODF), but without taking the responsibility of Mumbai as the Centre has already validated its ODF status. At a review meeting held on Wednesday at Mantralaya with the urban development department, it declared that 384 municipal corporations, councils and nagar panchayats are completely ODF. However, the catch is that they are being declared ODF as per the state’s definition, if they have access to toilets.

The official announcement is likely to be made on October 2, the deadline issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Cautious to sustain its efforts, the urban development department has appointed ‘OD Watch’ teams to monitor that nobody is defecating in the open.

“We are going to declare urban Maharashtra, which covers 384 municipal bodies, as ODF. The areas have constructed five lakh toilets and 12,000 community toilet seats. We have encouraged people to build toilets by giving them financial help and various other incentives. Constructing toilets will not serve the purpose, the people will have to get habituated to using and maintaining them,” principal secretary of the urban development department, Manisha Mhaiskar told The Asian Age. The state government has pooled in with its share of '8,000 per toilet, the Government of India with '4000, while '5000 is given by local bodies to build the toilets.

When asked about Mumbai, the official said that the Centre had already validated the city as ODF. “Urban Maharashtra includes Mumbai as well. But the city has been already validated ODF by the Centre,” Ms. Mhaiskar said. Earlier, the urban development department had declared 100 cities ODF and has encouraged people to build toilets at home. However, Mumbai has remained a problem area.

Intending to sustain with toilets and its maintenance, the urban development department has started the “ODWatch” programme. “Our officials will visit the spots and monitor if the people are using toilets. The monitoring will continue for three months to ensure the use of the toilets.

Toilets in cities

In urban Maharashtra, 5 lakh toilets and 12,000 community toilet seats have been built.

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