Hyderabad – July 10th, 2007: Supplementing the Nirmal Gram Puruskar (NGP) from the President of India, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to add to the momentum towards total sanitation in the state. Encouraged by the increase of NGP recipient Gram Panchayats (village governing body) to 143 in 2006-07 from a mere 10 recipients in 2005-06, the AP government has constituted “Shubhram Awards”.
Once the Zilla (District) Parishads, Mandal (Block) Parishads and Gram Panchayat are selected for the state award they will then be sent for nomination to Nirmal Gram Puraskar. With more emphasis on community participation and sustainability in the long run the state government has surely understood the importance of focusing on collective behavior change than the targeting of individuals.
Envisioning a clean Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S.Rajasekhar Reddy has sent out a message - “Total environmental Sanitation and access to safe drinking water speak of a vibrant Andhra Pradesh; Shubhram Award promotes community action that is vital in achieving it.”
Based on the six parameters to measure the achievement, 1,150 GPs can hope to win Rs. 30,000 each with the best GP in a district getting Rs.125,000 and the top GP in the state receiving Rs.250,000. The best mandal can hope to win half a million rupees and the top most district will be given one million rupees award.
Built on the same lines of NGP, the state government’s announcement recognizes the inextricable link between sanitation and health. It may be noted that Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in AP at 57. The award envisions that improved sanitation will positively contribute to reducing people’s investment on health.
The award also mandates the change in the perceived role of the government from mere provider of resources and services to facilitator of collective empowerment. It also attempts to shift the perception of sanitation as just excreta disposal to include hygiene, solid waste management and drainage. The upkeep of drinking water supply schemes is also linked to the concept of total sanitation and not only promotion of toilets.
Any Gram Panchayat which is free from open defecation would be eligible to participate in the competition. Similarly, three mandal parishads and three zilla parishads with the highest number of Open Defecation – Free (ODF) villages in their jurisdiction would be awarded.
So as not to make it a one time event in a village, the scheme has built in a mechanism to sustain the status of villages beyond the award. Any winning GP, which does not sustain the achievements, can have the prize withdrawn by the commissioner. This will also be publicized in the media.
With the institution of the award it is hoped that the competition within districts, blocks and villages towards achieving total sanitation in the State will kick start in the right earnest.