Sanitation in JK continues to be worst Efforts on to tackle problem: Govt

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Ishtyaq Ahmad

Srinagar, Aug 3: Even though the Jammu and Kashmir is famous for its tourist destinations, Sanitation here continues to be among the worst in India.
Sources said that hundreds of households are still without a toilet. However the authorities in government said that the law and order situation always plays a factor for the limited sanitation coverage.
One of the top officials of the government said that efforts are on to tackle the problem but said that government is not to be blamed alone but one has to understand that the law and order problem from last few years plays a factor for the limited sanitation coverage.
He however said that the authorities are now on job to cover all the districts.
According to the data available on Swachh Bharat Mission dashboard, over 2 lakh (2,02,238) individual household toilets were constructed in rural J&K after the launch of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. In the last three years, the state’s sanitation coverage has improved only to 40.97 percent from 20.38 percent in 2014,” sources maintained.
The former Chief Secretary of the state had admitted that the state has so far achieved 55 per cent coverage of Individual House Hold Latrines (IHHL). “During the review meeting on the progress of flagship Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) chaired by the Prime minister Narendera Modi the Chief Secretary has said that state has so far achieved only 55 percent coverage and that government believes that it will increase up to 60 per cent by April 10 2018,” Notably, the state is yet to achieve the ODF status,”.
Sources in the housing and urban department said that sanitation facilities are very poor here and this is not only limited to villages. “The situation is similar in towns and healthcare institutions as well. Hepatitis A and diarrhoea, particularly in children, caused by rotavirus are common among patients where sanitary facilities are poor,” they said.
It is been observed that the states two capital cities are not far behind as attending the natural call at open places is widely prevalent in the numerous slums.
As per the different surveys even posh areas in Jammu and Srinagar is also among the several areas that have defunct public toilets leaving people to defecate in the open.
Sources said that the Municipal Corporation both in Jammu and Srinagar claims to have sufficient functional public toilets, however, on ground, the picture is dismal with no usable public toilet accessible for the masses.
Social activists are saying that subsequent governments have not bothered to provide basic facilities to the public. “Most of the public toilets that are in the two capital cities are located on the main roads and follow pay and use models, which act as a deterrent for the poor,” said one of the social activist.
However experts said that open defecation is a pressing public health issue and no sector can address it on its own. “Civil society organizations, private sector, youth organizations, government, academia, decision makers and individuals have to work together on this issue. The practice of open defecation is totally unacceptable as it poses a risk to everyone,” one of the former officials of the urban department said.
He said that the situation is so pathetic in the state that it becomes difficult to walk on some stretches due to this unhealthy practice.
The officials in the government have admitted that although a lot is being done by the government to tackle the problem of sanitation, and although efforts are yielding positive results, a lot still needs to be done, looking at the needs of the population.
“A detailed exercise is also being conducted to identify the shortcomings of the existing sanitation and drinking water efforts and incorporate them,” said one of the officials of the government.
It is to mention here that the Baseline survey of the union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has ranked Jammu and Kashmir third worst state in sanitation. The two worst states are Odisha and Bihar.
The survey has said that Jammu and Kashmir, a state of 12.5 million people, did not use about the money properly granted by union government for the sanitation .The survey has said that for 2014-15, the Jammu and Kashmir using Rs 4.66 crore out of Rs 121.52 crore.
The data has said that in Jammu and Kashmir, 6,351 schools lack toilets for girls and 8,098 lack toilets for boys. More than 71% of schools have no basins or taps to wash hands near toilets and urinals.
The annual implementation plan for the year 2015-2016 of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was approved by the state on June 9, setting a target of 0.2 million latrines to be constructed in rural areas during the year. Of J&K’s three regions, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, two districts, Kargil and Leh, in the mountainous Ladakh region, did better in household toilet construction than Kashmir and Jammu divisions, the data had revealed.
Sources said that though the J&K government’s aim is to go open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, but the track record so far, does make the target seem like a tall order. (KNS)