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The State of Chhattisgarh is set to become Open Defecation Free (ODF) by the end of 2018. This was announced by the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Dr. Raman Singh in Raipur. He was speaking at a 2-day Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) National Conclave organised by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in Raipur for District Collectors and officers from the Phase 1 focus districts for SBM.

The Chief Minister went on to stress the importance of involving women and children as the ambassadors for SBM, adding that girls in Chhattisgarh have started keeping the presence of a toilet as a pre-condition for marriage into a family. On its part, the Government of Chhattisgarh has decided to give preference to its ODF blocks in schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) for distribution of LPG connections, he added, to incentivise more blocks and districts to achieve ODF status.

Speaking at the workshop via Video Conference, Puducherry Lieutenant Governor, Kiran Bedi spoke at length about the need for politicians and bureaucrats to be in touch with the real sanitation situation on the ground to make any impact. For this, she said, she had herself removed the sirens and beacons from her own car and driven around Puducherry to experience the harsh reality of open defecation.

She gave the administrators the mantra Walk The Shit, asking them to step out early morning and go to the fields to experience the harsh reality of open defecation and be jolted into decisive action to change these unsanitary behaviours.

One of the highlighted activities undertaken during the workshop was a #MySBMidea contest. Districts shared best practices and innovative ideas deployed by them in sanitation, and the best idea was selected by means of a Twitter contest using the hashtag #MySBMidea. The idea that won the contest was Tippy Tap, a hands-free way to wash hands that is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water.

The workshop was a highly interactive exercise, with extensive sharing of ideas and best practices. In particular, several districts of Chhattisgarh made presentations to share their behaviour change innovations in general and the community incentive approach adopted in the State in particular.

There is a silent revolution going on in Chhattisgarh and the States commitment to SBM is an example for the entire country. The Ministry plans to organise more such events in the coming days to accelerate rapid learning and sharing across States, said the Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Parameswaran Iyer in his closing remarks at the end of the 2-day workshop.