In a bid to ensure that the district is declared open defecation-free by August 15, the Ballari Zilla Panchayat has taken up several programmes, including holding awareness workshops, felicitations to gram panchayat presidents and vice-presidents for their successful implementation of the programme, to motivate other elected representatives of gram panchayats and officials to expedite the process of construction of individual toilets in their respective jurisdiction.

At an awareness workshop here on Monday, zilla panchayat president Bharati Thimmareddy and Chief Executive Officer K.V. Rajendra felicitated several gram panchayat presidents and vice-presidents besides announcing a special grant of Rs. 1 crore to all gram panchayats that have made achievements in getting toilets constructed, to be used for various development works.

As on July 24, 13,709 toilets remain to be completed to get the district the open defecation-free tag.

As per the 2012 base-line survey, 2.53 lakh families had to get individual toilets constructed. Of them, 61,328 families already had toilets and 1.91 lakh families had to have them. The unit cost is Rs. 15,000 for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, of which the Union government contribution is Rs. 7,200, while that of the State government is Rs. 7,800. For others, the unit cost is Rs. 12,000 with the Union government giving Rs. 7,200 and the State government Rs. 4,800.

Though work started long ago, the number of toilets constructed was around 2.39 lakh toilets as of July 2018 (1.02 lakh were constructed during 2016-17). Later, with more stress being laid and a lot of persuasion and by adopting various awareness programmes involving all the line departments and roping in banks to extend loans, an additional 21,925 toilets were added in the first four months (up to July) during this financial year.

Of the 199 gram panchayats, 133 have completed the task and have been declared open defecation-free. The work of getting toilets constructed in the remaining 66 gram panchayats is going on briskly.

Among the taluks, Hosapete has emerged open defecation-free with no pending work. But Ballari taluk lags far behind other taluks as far as construction of toilets is concerned and still, 4,765 toilets remain to be constructed, followed by Hagari Bommanahalli 3,855, Kudligi 2,732, Sandur 1,726, Hadagali 510 and Sirguppa 121.

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