Syed Muthahar Saqaf
Five-fold jump in number civic bodies selected for the honour
TIRUCHI: As many as 25 village panchayats, spread over 14 blocks in the district, have been selected for the Nirmal Gram Puraskar sponsored by the Central Government.
The presidents of the panchayats will receive the awards from the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, in New Delhi this weekend.
Tiruchi district succeeded in achieving a five-fold jump in the number of award winning panchayats this year and stands third in the State, next only to Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam.. Last year, only five panchayats were selected for this award.
The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) had recommended 28 panchayats at the rate of two per block for the honour. After a couple of visits, officials from the Sanitation and Water Supply Department of the Union Ministry of Rural Development expressed satisfaction with the sanitation standards of 25 panchayats and nominated them for the award, carrying a purse of of Rs.2 lakh onwards based on the population of the respective panchayats.
The presence of household toilets, absence of open defecation, and maintenance of public cleanliness were among the important parameters for the selection, the Project Officer, DRDA, P. Anandhraj said on Monday.
The DRDA organised sensitisation campaigns at frequent intervals among the panchayat heads to promote sanitation and cleanliness. By virtue of these campaigns, residents made the most of the subsidy - at the rate of Rs.1,200 provided by the DRDA for constructing individual toilets.
The DRDA was looking forward to converting entire blocks into `no open defecation zones' by concentrating on one block a year henceforth, said Mr. Anandhraj.
Of the 12,618 village panchayats in the State, a total of 280 panchayats have been selected for this honour this year.