The Punjab Government would carry out week long massive awareness campaign under the ‘Freedom from Open Defecation’ programme starting from August 9. The Punjab Water Supply & Sanitation Minister Mr. Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa while addressing media persons here today said the target was to make rural Punjab open defecation free by the end of this year.Mr. Bajwa also announced that eminent comedians and film actors Mr. Jaswinder Bhalla and Mr. Binnu Dhillon would be associated with the ‘Mission Swachh and Swasth Punjab’ as brand ambassadors in the State. He appreciated their commitment towards the social cause of making Punjab clean and healthy. Outlining the salient achievements of the Department, the Minister stated that rural areas of 9 districts (Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Moga, SAS Nagar, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Barnala, Faridkot and SBS Nagar) have been self-declared as Open Defecation Free by Gram Panchayats and respective Deputy Commissioners. In all, 52 blocks and 5953 villages have been declared ODF till date. 1.98 lac households have constructed latrines of their choice and construction of 1.21 lac latrines are under construction, he added. The approach followed by the Department has been to motivate beneficiaries to construct bath-cum-latrines for more effective use. Beneficiaries have contributed Rs. 5000/- to 15000/- over and above the government grant out of their own resources which is a sign of high level of ownership, said the Minister.
The Minister said in the week long celebrations under the ‘Freedom from Open Defecation’ programme, the Punjab government would carry out awareness programmes across the state against ill effects of open defecation through mass media, mid media (folk drama and folk performance, street theatre, puppet shows, video vans, and also fairs and exhibitions), interpersonal communication (IPC) programmes, seminars and student rallies. Policy makers, community leaders and administrators would also be made part of this campaign, he added.The Department of Water Supply and Sanitation in collaboration with School Education Department would organize various competitions at the district level on slogan writing, declamation contest, painting/ drawing competition and poetry writing and recitation competition in schools and colleges. The Minister further said that to achieve the objective of the program the Department would organize cash prize competitions on slogan, jingles, video/animated films & digital poster making content focusing on the ill effects of open defecation, build and use toilets and the benefits of leach pit technology.
The Water Supply and Sanitation Minister also announced that mass tree plantation drive would be organized on August 9 across the state by the Department with the assistance of the Forest Department. The Department would plant trees at more than 8000 water works in the rural areas wherein a total of about 1.25 lac trees will be planted during the drive.The Minister appealed to the people of rural Punjab to participate whole-heartedly and to make the campaign a success and the State open defecation free by 31st December 2017.Amongst others prominent present on the occasion included Mrs. Jaspreet Talwar, Secretary, Water Supply and Sanitation, Mr. Gurkirat Kirpal Singh Special Principal Secretary to CM Punjab, Mr. Ashwani Kumar HoD, Mr. Bal Mukand Sharma (Markfed), Mr. Gurdarshan Singh Bahia OSD to Minister, AK Kalsi Chief Engineer, Mr. Mohammad Ishfaq Director Sanitation, Mrs. Veenkashi Sharma Director Water Quality and other officials of the department.