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Rural Gujarat's 47 per cent people defecate in open, 63 per cent villages don't have drainage facility: NSSO

By Our Representative
Latest Government of India data suggest that, despite the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) cleanliness dive launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2014, 47.1 per cent of Gujarat’s rural population still defecates in the open, which is worse than as many as nine other major Indian states.
Released in “Swachhta Status Report 2016”, prepared by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), India’s premier data collection centre, the data show that the best performer remains Kerala, where just about 2.3 per cent of people defecating in the open.
The 2011 Census of India figures, released about three years ago, show that Gujarat, considered a model for other states to follow, had 65.76 per cent of 6,765,403 rural households, which would roughly be 2.28 crore of the rural population, used open fields to defecate.
Explaining the reasons for coming up with the report, the NSSO says, “The aim of the SBM is to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2019, as a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary. Especially in the rural areas, it says, it would improve “the levels of cleanliness through solid and liquid waste management activities and making gram panchayats open defecation free, clean and sanitised.”
Among its other objectives are, it says, to remove “the bottlenecks that were hindering the progress, including partial funding for individual household latrines from Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, and focussing on critical issues affecting outcomes.”
The focus areas identified for the SBM in rural areas, according to the NSSO, are not just construction of individual household latrines, saying, “The programme is aimed at covering all the rural families. Incentive as provided under the scheme may be extended to all below poverty line (BPL) households and Above Poverty Line (APL) Households restricted to SCs/STs, small and marginal farmers, landless labourers with homestead, physically challenged and women headed households.”
“The construction of household toilets will be undertaken by the household itself and on completion and use of the toilet, the cash incentive will be given to the household in recognition of its achievement”, the NSSO points out.
Despite the targets, the data show that, despite the SBM, Gujarat has a long way to go, with 44.5 per cent rural households still do not have what the NSSO calls “sanitary toilets” – a category which “ensures safe confinement and disposal of faeces (excreta) and does not require the need for human handling.”
This is against just about 2.4 per cent of Kerala’s rural households not having sanitary toilets, Himachal Pradesh’s 9.6 per cent, Haryana’s 9.8 per cent, Punjab’s 13.3 per cent, Uttarakhand’s 19.5 per cent, Assam’s 33.3 per cent, West Bengal’s 34.9 per cent, and Telangana’s 38.9 per cent.
Interestingly, 62.7 per cent of the villages of Gujarat, if the report is any indication, do not have drainage arrangement, which is worse than the national average of 44.4 per cent – suggesting that even if 55.5 per cent rural households may be having sanitary latrines, many of them are deprived of any facilities in the form of what NSSO calls katchi nali or pakki nali.
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