Dakshina Kannada is about to get the “Nirmal Gram Puraskar” under the Centrally-sponsored Total Sanitation Campaign programme. To give fillip to the Total Sanitation Campaign, the Government of India initiated an incentive scheme for fully sanitised and open defecation free gram panchayats, blocks, and districts called the “Nirmal Gram Puraskar”.

Nirmal Gram Puraskar aims to recognise the efforts of the panchayat raj institutions and other institutions which have significantly contributed towards full sanitation coverage in their areas of operation. If a panchayat with a population of less than 5,000 qualifies for the award, it gets Rs. 2 lakh and those with population between 5,000 and 10,000 get Rs. 4 lakh. If all gram panchayats under a taluk qualify for the award, such a taluk panchayat will get an incentive of Rs. 20 lakh and the district with such an achievement will get Rs. 50 lakh.

The Dakshina Kannada District is awaiting the visit of a Central team to some of the 23 gram panchayats which are yet to be certified to have met the guidelines of the programme. The visit is expected anytime after September 15, a meeting to review the progress of development programmes was told at the zilla panchayat office here on Friday. The Central team will visit 30 per cent of the villages which are seeking the “Nirmal Gram” tag.

Chief Planning Officer of the zilla pancayat T.J. Takath Rao said only 23 of the 203 gram panchayats are yet to be certified under the programme. All other gram panchayats had attained this status already.

If the Central team approves the efforts made by the zilla panchayat, the district will attract nationwide and even international attention. Mr. Takath Rao said he hoped that teams from different parts of the country will visit the district to study how it has ensured total sanitation.

Mr. Takath Rao said the committees constituted at the village level to supervise cleanliness and water supply should ensure that all the villages adhere strictly to the guidelines on a continuous basis. “It will be a matter of pride for the district to be declared as being totally clean,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer of the zilla panchayat P. Shivashankar has gone on record in the past saying that it is not mandatory that every house had a toilet. Two or more houses could share toilets.

The president of the zilla panchayat K. Santhosh Kumar Bhandari urged the officials to ensure proper implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in the district. A serious concern was raised about the failures of the officials in this regard at the State level, he pointed out.

Mr. Shivashankar said 60 per cent of the funds should be used for providing labour and the rest to procure material. Exceptions to this rule could be allowed only if the implementing officers prove that they had no other option. The funds not used would go back to the Centre, he stressed and urged officials to be more serious in its implementation. Every gram panchayat should have some schemes started by the end of September, he said. So should be the case with every department of the panchayat, he added.