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No toilet? You can’t contest ZP, TP polls

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Public Health

If you want to contest the upcoming zilla and taluk panchayat elections in the state, make sure your house has a toilet. At least that’s the message from rural development and panchayat raj minister Jagadish Shettar, who is pushing hard to make it mandatory for a candidate to have a toilet in his/her house. It is also part of the action plan prepared by the government to make Karnataka an open defecation-free state by 2012 set by Union ministry for rural development on the total sanitation campaign of Unicef.
“How can a leader who doesn’t have a toilet in his house ask others to build one?’’ said Shettar who has taken an initiative to give momentum to rural sanitation efforts, particularly in north Karnataka. He said the BJP government has “made up its mind’’ to enact a law. If such a law is in place, candidates will have to submit a certificate from the local authority, confirming the same, before filing nomination papers for contesting any polls. “People imitate leaders and, especially in rural areas, this law would be more effective as even the rich there feel that constructing toilets is a waste of money,’’ Shettar said.
According to a study, the state is behind the country’s average of 33% in the use of toilets. Half of the schools in Karnataka have also no toilets. In every fourth high school, girls have to share toilets with boys. While the total average sanitation cover of Karnataka is around 40%, this figure is abysmally low, at less than 20%, in around 17 districts.
Despite the fact that 53 lakh households, comprising 55% of households above poverty line (APL) in the state, do not have household toilets, people still clamour for government subsidy to construct one. “The general opinion is that the Rs 1,200 subsidy given to people below poverty line (BPL) to construct a toilet is not sufficient. Constructing and using a toilet should be a matter of self-pride,’’ Shettar said.

For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here

It is indeed heartening to note a minister pursuing this important cause, which generally people do not even want to talk about, even as most of his colleagues are busy amassing their personal wealth. May Mr Shettar's tribe increase.

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