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Parliamentary panel doubts Centre "declaring" 9 top states, including Gujarat, 100% villages open defecation free

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the Government of India declaring villages of 10 major Indian states – Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand – as having achieved 100% sanitation coverage, a Parliament committee report, released in the Lok Sabha on July 19, has observed the dream of the Father of the Nation “for total sanitation for all and a clean India is still elusive.”
Also disagreeing that with the claim the rural areas of nine big states have even become “open defecation free” (ODF), the Parliamentary committee on rural development (2017-18), in its 59-page report, observes, “Contrary to the figures being projected by the Ministry, the Committee, while examining the subject, was of the view that the sanitation coverage figures seemed to be more on paper, but the actual progress at the ground level is very lethargic”.
Prepared under Dr P Venugopal (Lok Sabha, AIADMK), chairperson, Standing Committee on Rural Development, the report says, “Even a village with 100% household toilets cannot be declared ODF till all the inhabitants start using them. The main thrust of the Government should be on the usage of toilets as mere building of toilets alone is not sufficient for the realization of actual vision of an ODF country.”
It adds, “The visible reality through the experiences reveal that much more is needed to be done so as to obtain the ‘behavioural change’ in rural populace to attain the real motive behind the programme.”
Finding the performance of some states – especially Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Odisha – is very low, ranging from 55% to 85%, the report observes, even the “secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, admitted about the dismal performance of bigger States”.
Pointing towards “poor nature of construction and low quality of raw materials being used in the construction of toilets under SBM(G), as found by committee members and through different feed-backs.”, the report insists, “No amount of infrastructural development under Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin) or SBM(G) will sustain ODF, until and unless the issue of durability and quality of construction of toilets is taken due care of.”
Villages declared open declaration free
Noting lack of “sound credibility on the ODF data”, the report states, there is a need to do “survey and regular re-survey” in order to “identify and rectify the defunct toilets over a period of time.” It adds, “The inclusion of the number of toilet in the data does not reveal a real picture of ODF until and unless the ‘coverage’ data and ‘usable’ data in regard to the functional toilets are same.”
Especially referring to the Government of India data, which claim that “77 % households in rural India have access to toilets and about 93% of them use toilets regularly”, the report states, “It has been observed in the past that fall back rate of ODF declared villages were very high.”
This, it states, this was so “either due to filing of wrong information regarding attaining of ODF, or due to non-sustainability of toilets, such villages reverted back to open defecation, thus rendering the entire exercise futile, while on data, they remain ODF.”
According to the committee, “At a time when the major parts of the country are under severe water shortage, the idea of attaining ODF status for 100% sanitation coverage across the nation seems farcical. Availability of water resource is of utmost importance and mere construction of toilets without water is of no use and wastage of resources.”
The situation is bad, says the report, even as, during the year 2018-19 (as on May 24, 2018), “there was huge unspent balance to the tune of Rs 9,890.84 crore under SBM(G)”, adding, “The problem of unspent balance is more prominent in certain states.”
Thus, in Uttar Pradesh Rs 2836.82 crore were lying unspent, in Bihar Rs 2764.62 crore, in Madhya Pradesh Rs. 866.68 crore, in Assam Rs. 606.30 crore, in Odisha Rs. 436.71 crore, in Andhra Pradesh Rs. 420.16 crore are lying unspent.
The report states, “Broad reasons responsible for unspent balances has been inadequate capacity building at grass root level and existence of revolving funds and leveraging other sources of credit etc.”
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Download full report HERE

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
ODF is a distant dream. Our CM also made an announcement and the next day, the papers had pics of men defecating in the open

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