Sunday, August 16, 2015

Toilet construction: Modi government fails to achieve target, "indulges" in data manipulation

Construction of household toilets (Nos)
By Our Representative
Is Prime Minister Narendrda Modi's Swacch Bharat campaign, launched on August 15, 2015, beginning to flounder? A recent analysis of the official figures of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation says, the target for household toilets was set at 98 million more toilets by 2019, which would require constructing 46 toilets per minute. However, in 2014-15, just 11 toilets were constructed per minute.
According to the analysis, titled "Will India get freedom from open defecation?", by Sushmita Sengupta in the "Down to Earth" journal's Independence Day special, "This means that construction has to speed up by four times the present rate. At the pace of 2014-15, the target would be achieved by 2032, and not 2019." As against an average of 67,000 toilets per day needed to achieve the target, the actual construction was just 5,933 per day in 2014-15.
As part of his campaign, the Modi government also set another target -- to have at least one toilet in every school by 2015, an "easier" task as there is no need to spread awareness among the users.Here also, there is a huge gap. The total number of schools where functional toilets have to be made is 418,000, while so far only 257,000 have them, which means that 161,000 do not have functional toilets, suggesting only 61 per cent of the target has been achieved, the analysis claims.
The journal believes that there is some manipulation in the data as well. Following official meetings in June and July, the Union ministry for human resources on school toilets, for instance, came out with clarification that "about 317,000 toilets had already been constructed till July 27, 2015."
Says the analysis, this contradicts the official figures already published. "The Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) data of 2013-14, that gives a complete database of schools in the country, says that there is a need for 419,000 toilets in the school. Hence, there is still a short fall of over 100,000 toilets." Despite this, the Swachh Vidyalaya website on August 11 said "97.16 per cent of the target has been achieved" and only "11,882 toilets will be constructed in four days."
Construction of school toilets (Nos)
This suggests, the analysis says, that the "the data projected on Swachh Vidyalaya website, the numbers of completed toilets being built daily seems to be skyrocketing unrealistically." It underlined, "While on August 11, twelve states were listed in list of pending projects, the number went down to four the next day".
Further, the analysis suggests that the latest data available from government sources show 22,838 toilets were constructed in seven months between August 2014 and March 2015, which is "in contrast with the numbers revealed by Swachh Vidyalalya website that says the government could construct 89,000 in 15 days between July 27 and August 11, 2015."
Analyst Sengupta comments, "The Modi government seems to be ignoring the fact that statistical interpretation of some data are making their desperation to achieve the target very clear. The rates at which the government has worked for this mission are more than 50 times of any initial drive. The data sheet for few UTs are totally absent from the website."
She adds, "Moreover, if we see the performance of schemes since 1986, when the first national sanitation programme was launched, it is seen that numbers never actually matter. It is poor maintenance, improper designs without water connection and lack of awareness that made the existing toilets also dysfunctional."

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