New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) The government has decided to involve NGOs for concurrent evaluation of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan following wide disparity in sanitation coverage figures given by states and those obtained in the 2011 census, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said Tuesday.
Addressing a national workshop of state and district level swachhata preraks (sanitation mobilisers) here, Ramesh also said his ministry intended to use over 21 lakh anganwadi workers, Asha (accredited social health activist) volunteers and over 25 self-help groups in the programme, which aims to ensure sanitation facilities in rural areas and eradicate the practice of open defecation.
Ramesh told media persons that his ministry has selected 30 NGOs across different states for social mobilisation and sanitation under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan as there was variation in data from almost every state.
He said state figures showed sanitation coverage to the extent of 65 percent while 2011 census figure showed it to be only 35 percent.
"We need concurrent evaluation for this. We will take help of NGOs," he said.
The minister said the ministry had set a target of making 29,500 panchayats as "nirmal gram panchayats (open defecation free panchayats)" in 2012-13.
He said 28,000 panchayats had got nirmal gram panchayat award over the past ten years but his ministry aimed to cross the number in this fiscal itself.
Ramesh said 600 swachhata preraks had been appointed in various districts and a website has been created for them to report progress of their work.
The minister said there were 13 lakh anganwadi workers and 8.5 lakh Asha volunteers working in National Rural Health Mission and they should be used for this work too.
"I feel there is 21 lakh swachhata sena (sanitation force). It should be used and linked to Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan," the minister said.
He said the ministry has decided to give financial incentive to Asha volunteers for their work in ending open defecation.
Ramesh also said nearly seven lakh anganwadi centres to be opened in the next five years will be linked to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, and MGNREGA guidelines will be modified to allow for construction of anganwadis.
He said sanitation works should also be a priority for nearly 25 lakh (2.5 million) self-help groups in the country.
"We are linking sanitation to National Rural Livelihood Mission. It should also come in the priority list of self help groups," he said.
"The objective is to make India open defecation free in 10 years," Ramesh said
He said while Sikkim was country's first open defecation free state, Himachal Pradesh was on course to achieving the status next year.
The minister said water supply and rural sanitation had seen the biggest leap in allocation after health in the 12th Plan.
An amount of Rs.117,000 crore had been marked for water supply and rural sanitation in the 12th plan against Rs.45,000 crore in the 11th Plan.