DIBRUGARH, Oct 29 - The district�s Singlijan tea estate, some 15 km from here, has become the first tea estate in the country to achieve Open Defecation Free (OFD) status under Swachh Bharat Mission.
The Timona Gram Panchayat and Singlijan garden management had jointly put in their efforts to achieve the rare status. To ensure that each household had toilets, a baseline survey was conducted by the Public Health Engineering department and accordingly some 147 toilets were constructed under the Swachh Bharat Mission while several defunct toilets of households were also made useable.
As part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, water samples of 320 drinking sources were tested and were disinfected. Garden management also constructed 125 platforms around hand pumps. Besides, to make the habit of practising cleanliness, the segregated waste disposal through separate dust bins have also been made available in the area.
Describing it as a rare accomplishment, Deputy Commissioner MS Manivannan who had recently spent a night at one of the houses in the tea estate to comprehend the sanitation status in the area today said that a formal announcement would be made in the first week of November. He said that another three tea gardens in the district are also on the verge of getting open defecation free tag.
�We are making efforts to declare the entire district as Open Defecation Free but this will require time. It is felt that construction of toilets alone will not make the mission complete. There needs to be an attitude change among the masses. Awareness programmes thorough inter- personal communications and other Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities are being carried out with the help of Wash Cell of UNICEF in the district. Availability of trained and quality masons, material chain management, logistics support, manpower mobilisation are the major challenges faced in the field�, the Deputy Commissioner shared.
Three Gaon Panchayats � Ikoratoli ( Lahowal Block), Ouphulia (Tingkhong Block) and Khowang GP (Khowang Block) are also about to be declared as Open Defecation Free GPs by November 15, as gathered from the Deputy Commissioner.
The practise of open defection in the rural areas, particularly in the tea gardens has been a concern for the government as it gives rise to litany of health woes. The Deputy Commissioner said that the real challenge was in the tea gardens where most of the households are not having sanitary latrines where the Garden Management is supposed to provide the sanitary latrines for all permanent employees as per Plantation Labour Act.�
To address the sanitation issues, a series of meetings were held with the garden managements. Some of the garden managements came forward and Singlijan was one among the first to come forward and to announce ODF garden�, he said.
This year the district has taken a target of completing 31200 Individual Household Latrines under SBM (Gramin). The total APL households not having toilets as per Base Line survey conducted by the PHE department is 90754.