On 2nd. October, 2014, The Government of India, restructured the erstwhile Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) as Swachha Bharat Mission (Gramin) with the mandate of making the country ODF by 2nd October, 2019. Government of West Bengal had already started its journey towards achieving ODF status for the rural areas of the state since the World Toilet Day celebration on 19th of November, 2013. After the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission by the Government of India, the State Government decided to converge its efforts with the new restructured programme towards realizing a common objective of achieving ODF and to make a cleanlier environment & surroundings under the state brand name of “Mission Nirmal Bangla”. For reaching the objective, an all-out effort was started through constituting a state Mission under the aegis of the Panchayats and Rural Development Department in the State Government. Mission Nirmal Bangla has the following major thrust areas –
- All the households to have access to safe sanitation
- All members of all households use the toilets
- Hand washing at critical times to be practiced universally
- All places of public congregation to have community sanitary complexes
- All households to have their solid & liquid waste management plan in place
- The village surroundings are to be kept clean
The Baseline Survey conducted in 2012-13 had indicated out of 51 lakhs rural households above 67 lakes as not having toilets. While providing access to sanitation to this huge left out households was a challenge to the administration which the present State Government accepted with elan, approach to the issue underwent a paradigm shift. The whole focus of the programme was removed from construction of toilets to achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) rural units-from villages to Gram Panchayats culminating into ODF Districts. Towards achieving this objective, from the highest to the lowest levels of administration, all Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI), all non-government stakeholders, teachers, students & common people had taken a pledge to lend their bit and be an important contribution. With declaration of Nadis district as the first ODF district after the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission, 30th April was declared as the Nirmal Bangla Diwas by Smt. Mamata Banerjee, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal.
Within the renewed intervention, construction activities is interspersed with a rigorous and sustained behaviour change communication at the individual and community level so as to ensure that using toilets for defecation becomes the universal norm in the villages. Different districts of the state have adopted different strategies for fulfilling their own ODF objectives.
Another positive attribute for the successful surge in the programme was the strong political backing that the Mission Niral Bangla initiative received since its beginning. The Hon’ble Chief Minister and the Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge of the nodal department had been the greatest inspiration to the implementing bodies across the tiers. The first Nirml Bangla Diwas celebration on 30th April, 2015 had seen, besides the state level celebrations, massive programmes at all districts and Gram Panchayats where political & PR functionaries participated in huge numbers.
The enthusiasm in the Misssion Nirmal Bangla implementation engulfed all the districts in no time after its launch. All the district implementing agencies had developed their own innovative approaches for stopping the menace of open defecation in the respective districts. While the construction of toilets were mostly carried out by the Sanitary Marts, massive IEC, BCC & IPC were carried out simultaneously for triggering change of behaviour.district became the first ODF district in the country after the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission.