The Telegraph India
By Special Correspondent
Wednesday , August 9 , 2017
(Note: Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission, toilets have been constructed in nearly 4.54 crore homes across the country. Uttarakhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Kerala have declared themselves free of open defecation. While the progress made has been commendable, in many places, though toilets have been constructed with government funding, regular water supply remains a perennial problem. It is up to the respective state governments to ensure water, especially through rain-water harvesting. Odisha, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are the focus states where relentless sanitation drive and conscientization need to be continued. Open defecation-free Swachh Bharat will be big boost to pollution-free environment and also save huge expenses on sanitation and healthcare. A very timely and thought-provoking article in the Telegraph. Isaac Gomes, CCV).
New Delhi, Aug. 8: Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha have the highest proportion of rural households whose members continue to defecate in the open despite toilets at home, according to a government-sponsored survey.
The Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017, conducted by the government-run Quality Council of India (QCI), found that 62 per cent of households in rural areas had toilets and 91 per cent of them actually used the facilities ( See chart).
The survey covered 1.4 lakh households in 4,626 villages across 32 states and Union territories, with the aim of finding out how many homes had toilets and the number of those that actually used them.
Bihar had the lowest coverage with only 30 per cent of households having toilets, of which around 13 per cent were not using them, according to the survey.
Jharkhand, where 37 per cent homes had toilets, was at the bottom in using such facilities with around a third preferring to relieve themselves in the open. In Odisha, only 40 per cent of households had toilets and 20 per cent of these families were not found using the facilities.
In Bengal, 76 per cent households have toilets at home and 6 per cent did not use them.
The findings of the survey, conducted in May and June this year, were released by rural development and sanitation minister Narendra Singh Tomar and sanitation secretary Parameswaran Iyer at a news conference here today.
The ministry aims to make India open defecation-free by 2019. It has recast a previous sanitation scheme and launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in October 2014, months after the Narendra Modi government came to power. The toilet coverage among rural households then was 39 per cent. It is now around 66 per cent.
Uttarakhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Kerala have declared themselves free of open defecation. "The work done may not be significant. But there is a lot of awareness about sanitation and ODF (becoming open defecation-free). I think the sanitation programme will be expedited now," Tomar said.
Asked how states could be free of open defecation without 100 per cent toilet coverage, Tomar suggested the onus was on the states as they had made the announcements about having ended the practice.
Secretary Iyer said some of the toilets built might have developed faults, leading to projections of a little less than 100 per cent coverage in some states. When the states declared themselves free of open defecation, they had 100 per cent coverage, Iyer claimed.
According to the official, Odisha, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh remain the focus states in the sanitation drive. Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission, toilets have been constructed in nearly 4.54 crore homes across the country.