Mission Swachh Bharat test for contesting candidates

Candidates contesting the municipal corporation or zilla parishad elections do not have to merely mention they have a toilet block or use one but have to get a certificate or an NOC from the local authority .

In its bid to ban open defecation, the government has taken forward the Swacch Bharat Mission to elections as well, election officials said.

While in the last election, the candidate had to just make a mention, this time the candidate has to make a declaration in the form of a certificate wherein the local office has to clear that the candidate has a toilet block in hisher residence. This has not only increased paper work for candidates but also for local ward offices that have to issue the certificates.

“It is a cumbersome process as along with all the other 18-19 certificates, they want a NOC. It would have been enough to just take a self-attested copy that the individual has a toilet block.With building plan and residence proof being sought, this is unnecessary paper work,” said acontesting candidate.

Another candidate said her party members had made several rounds of the ward office but with the huge number of candidates, she has to wait for her turn. The candidate, who stays in a flat, said that when the building plan and loan for the flat are sought, it raises ques tions about the move. “ A question on whether the candidate has a toilet block should have been enough rather than procuring a certificate of no objection,“ she said.

Another candidate said that while it was a good initiative to check if the candidate has a toilet block, these certificates were unnecessary .

While independent toilets in the city area have never been an issue, it is the rural areas which are struggling for meeting the deadline for open defecation.

For Pune city , the target achieved is 96.62%, according achieved is 96.62%, according to the officials, while for the district and rural areas, it is 81%.Kolhapur, Ratnagiri, Sangli, Satara, Pune and Thane corporation areas are close to achieving 100%.

The officials stated that while in city area, people use toilets, in the rural areas people still defecate in the open due to lack of toilets and widespread traditional beliefs.

“The drive to spread awareness continues and so it is a good initiative that candidates cannot contest without having atoilet block,” an official said.

Earlier too, there was an ini tiative to strip sarpanch of his post if he did not have a toilet block at his home. Later, it was made mandatory for contesting elections.

The government has started an initiative to install 110 million toilets nationwide by 2019 and almost all the western states have introduced laws requiring local political candidates to use toilets.

The election officials said that state officials want local office holders to serve as role models in following modern sanitation practices. However, a candidate living in chawls and other slum areas has to use common toilets and heshe cannot be deprived of contesting elections because heshe comes from slum areas.

Source : TOI