Strict action must be taken against those responsible for incorrect reporting of open defecation free status, the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry said in an advisory. The ministry issued the advisory yesterday directing all states to ensure quality of toilets being built and their subsequent usage under the Swachh Bharat Mission in the rural areas. "Strict action must be taken against people responsible for incorrect reporting and those whose negligence may result in incomplete and unsafe toilets in the rural areas," the advisory said. Reacting to recent media reports regarding "construction of toilets which are incomplete and of poor quality", the advisory directed all states to "ensure that the administration should take extreme care and caution while construction of toilets with proper facilities." "The states and districts are to encourage communities to build toilets on their own and use them.
Gram panchayats and districts have the responsibility to handhold the community in improving their sanitation situation and attain open defecation free (ODF)," it said. The ministry has also provided the guidelines to states to ensure the quality of toilets are maintained. The states have been instructed to put forward a mechanism in place for concurrent monitoring of quality of toilets being constructed by officials involved in the implementation of the programme, it said. The guidelines also emphasises that "declaration of the ODF status can only be done after reasonable checks on the ODF claims by the district and the verification of the ODF declared villages must take place within 3 months of declaration." The advisory instructed states "to make either the gram panchayat head at the village level or the District Magistrate at the district level, accountable for verifying claims of being ODF." "States need to put in place the suggested mechanism for effective implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission in rural areas to avoid serious lapses which dents the image and reputation of an otherwise highly successful programme," it said.
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