Panaji, Oct 2 (IANS) The Goa government’s claim of an open defecation free (ODF) state has come under a cloud with even Chief Minister Pramod Sawant being forced to admit that declaring Goa an ODF state was necessary to avoid national embarrassment.
While the Congress has alleged that the government was unable to set up toilets in all village panchayat jurisdictions in its rush to declare Goa ODF by August 31 this year, Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat has claimed that facts were manipulated to ensure that Goa made the ODF cut by hook or by crook.
“The government has mastered the art of manipulation by declaring Goa as 100 per cent ODF, when it is not a fact,” Kamat said.
Goa, which has seen a long spell of political uncertainty, has skipped several deadlines vis a vis making the state ODF, the first of which was October 2, 2017, which was set by then Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar. In 2018, then Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar had also informed the state legislative assembly that the Goa government would spend Rs. 280 crore on setting up 60,000 bio-toilets to make Goa ODF.
After Pramod Sawant assumed charge as Chief Minister earlier this year, he announced a scheme which offered discounted rates for bio-toilets to speed up the implementation of the ODF agenda, especially as earlier this year a survey conducted by the Swachh Bharat mission identified Goa as one of the four states which had failed to achieve 100 per cent coverage as far as household toilets were concerned.
Even after the state was declared ODF by Sawant on August 31 this year, several heads of panchayats and municipal bodies in Goa have complained about the paucity of toilets and other infrastructure, raising doubts about the veracity of the Goa ODF claim.
“In Goa, a few migrants come and stay in huts without toilets and people come and tell me that in this circumstance we cannot declare Goa ODF… But if we had not declared the state ODF, we would have faced shame in the country,” Sawant said last week.