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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Inspiration-The Inspiring Story of How Sikkim Became India’s Cleanest State

M G Marg, Gangtok 
In this small north-eastern state, people have a sense of pride that their home state is India’s first open-defecation free state.
This record was reiterated in the recently conducted Swachhta (cleanliness) survey undertaken by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) on the condition of sanitation in Indian states. According to the report, all four of Sikkim’s districts rank among top ten districts in cleanliness and sanitation. About 98.2% households in Sikkim are equipped with clean toilets and 100% of the state’s population use the community or household toilet.Sikkim began its cleanliness drive over a decade before Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission. It was 13 years ago in 2003 when the Pawan Chamling-led government launched its total sanitation campaign for the state.There was also a conscious effort to install public filters for drinking water, build more public toilets and introduce a better drainage system in the major cities like Gangtok and Namchi.As many as 1,772 schools were covered under the total sanitation campaign. This was done under the central government’s Nirmal Bharat sanitation drive.The government also got local panchayats involved to sensitise people, particularly about hygiene and the fact that Sikkim needed to maintain a clean and green image as a tourism state.

Sikkim’s cleanliness model has evolved over the decade to ensure that the people abide by rules. There is a strictly enforced, legal penalty for every violation – for using plastics, for smoking in public places, for urinating in the open and for littering. Breaking rules fetches stiff fines. Smoking in public place, for example, could cost the offender a fine of Rs 200, whereas urinating in public places has a fine of Rs 500. Along with the ban on plastics, these rules have been enforced in the state for over a decade now.However, the government knows that there is more to be done. While plastic packets are now rarely spotted, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) water bottles are still sometimes thrown by tourists. To address this issue, the government is contemplating a complete ban on such water bottles. This will compel locals as well as tourist to use the RO or filter water made available in designated public places, hotels and restaurants. Once executed, it will be another first in India.
In 2016, Sikkim also became the first Organic State of India, having shunned chemical pesticides and fertilizers for 13 years to return to natural methods of farming.
While Sikkim has clearly emerged as the cleanest state, it also has the possibility of soon emerging as the first state in India with zero poverty – only 8 % of the state’s families live below the poverty line.While the government’s efforts in helping Sikkim achieve these remarkable targets is commendable, the commitment and self-imposed discipline of the Sikkimese people also needs to be appreciated.In a school in West Sikkim, innovative children are showing their communities how to manage waste by recycling plastics into useful items of daily life. Here is a glimpse of this great initiative.

Source and Source:http://www.thebetterindia.com/70390/sikkim-india-cleanest-state/

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