Srinagar: As Jammu & Kashmir recently achieved the status of an Open Defecation Free (ODF) Plus Model, the Lt Governor led Administration is embarking on yet another bigger initiative of “Back To Village” programme. Mentioned below is the tale of a remarkable journey of Jammu & Kashmir’s Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin
Introduction: In a historic feat of dedication and persistent effort, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has achieved the status of an Open Defecation Free (ODF) Plus Model, marking a significant milestone in the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin. This achievement, announced on August 14, 2023, is a testament to the unwavering commitment of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (J&K) towards holistic sanitation.
The Journey to ODF Plus: The journey towards this milestone has been marked by innovative initiatives and a comprehensive approach towards sanitation. The ODF Plus Model designation is not merely about the absence of open defecation but encompasses a village’s ability to effectively manage both solid and liquid waste, ensuring visual cleanliness with minimal litter and wastewater stagnation, and eliminating plastic waste dumps in public spaces. Moreover, these villages actively promote Information, Education & Communication (IEC) messages pertaining to ODF Plus practices.
Swachh Bharat Mission Phase II: As part of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin’s Phase II, J&K introduced a range of campaigns and projects aimed at transforming sanitation practices. From the ‘Swachhata Karwaan’ to the ‘Pink Toilets’ initiative targeting improved school attendance, the state demonstrated its commitment to a cleaner, healthier environment. The ‘Give Polythene Get Gold’ campaign and the establishment of ‘pink societies’ further exemplify the innovative strategies employed.
Infrastructure Backbone: The infrastructural backbone of this achievement is evident in the staggering numbers: 1850 waste collection and segregation sheds, 23,393 community soak pits, 11,667 community compost pits, 3 plastic waste management units, 5486 community sanitary complexes, and 20 GOBARdhan plants. These assets have played a pivotal role in ensuring effective waste management across the villages.
Transition from ODF to ODF Plus: The transition from ODF to ODF Plus in Swachh Bharat Mission Phase II showcases the state’s commitment to sustaining sanitation improvements. Major components of Phase II, including Solid Waste Management, Plastic Waste Management, Liquid Waste Management, and Information Education and Communication/Behavior Change Communication, have been diligently implemented.
‘Back to Village’ Initiative: Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is fervently engaged in the Swachhta Pakhwada Campaign, launched on September 15th and concluding on October 2nd. However, the state’s commitment to holistic development goes beyond sanitation. The ‘Back to Village’ initiative, presently its fifth edition is a testament to the government’s dedication to reaching every citizen in the region. Under this initiative, officers from various departments visit villages to gather feedback and ensure the saturation of schemes, ensuring that the benefits reach every individual, leaving no one behind. This proactive approach towards governance not only addresses immediate needs but also fosters a sense of pride and ownership among the residents.
Conclusion: Jammu and Kashmir’s journey from ODF to ODF Plus, coupled with the ‘Back to Village’ initiative, stands as a beacon of progress, not only in sanitation but also in comprehensive rural development. It is a testament to the collective effort of the people, elected representatives, and the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj. This achievement not only enhances the immediate surroundings but also fosters a sense of pride in the region’s heritage, setting an example for others to follow.