Nandabai Korku, 35, may be the president of Khirakia Krishi Upaj Mandi in Harda district of MP, but back home in Temlabadi village, she and her impoverished family members still defecate in the open as they do not have a toilet.
Similarly, Saraswati Korku of Bichpuri Sirkular village also in Harda and half the residents of the village, too defecate in the open.
“We don’t have the resources to get (a) toilet constructed. Now, we hear that we would get money to build one,” Saraswati told HT.
The two examples are typical of a majority of villages in Madhya Pradesh even a year after the much-touted Swachch Bharat Mission (SBM) launched on October 2, 2014.
Statistics makes the situation clearer.
Over the past year since the Swachch Bharat or the Clean India mission was launched, Madhya Pradesh faltered significantly in achieving its targets, managing to construct only 5.69 lakh out of the expected 18 lakh or 31.5% of individual household latrines (IHHL), statistics of the Union ministry of drinking water and sanitation show.
The construction of household toilet is one of the most important components of the mission. The reports of the Union ministry show that Madhya Pradesh government has a target to build 90, 39,497 IHHL over five years (from October 2014 to September 2019).
However, from October 2014 to August 2015, the state government managed to construct only 5, 22,285 such units.
“Given the monthly average of about 47,000 units, we can assume that by September-end about 5.69 lakh toilets have been constructed in state, but it is yet less than one-third of the annual target. If things continue at this pace, only 27 lakh toilets would be constructed in five years,” Parshuram Tiwari, water and sanitation expert told HT.
From April 2014 to August 2015, only 2.17 lakh of the targeted 19.45 lakh toilets or 11% have so far been constructed.
Tiwari, who was associated with the SBM until recently, said there is no provision for qualitative training of masons involved in the mission work and even the Swachchta Duts (sanitation messengers) are not used properly.
A sum of Rs 12,000 is uniformly sanctioned for construction of a toilet, irrespective of the distance and poor accessibility of many areas that makes transportation of construction material far costlier.
“Sanitation is not just about toilet construction. Use by all family members, availability of water, sewage management and overall sanitation are important aspects that need attention. The state has not even been able to develop the necessary human resource network in a year,” he said.
State coordinator for SBM (rural) Hyamvathi Varman conceded that the pace of construction of IHHLs was slow.
“But we are focusing on (an) integrated approach of making behavioural changes necessary for use of toilets once they are constructed and to make villages open defecation free,” she said.
“We are getting good response on these counts. We are hopeful that the construction pace would pick up during coming months.”
Facts & figures
90,39,497: Target for MP to build toilets (Oct 2014- Sept 2019)
5,22,285: Toilets constructed (Oct 2014 - Aug 2015)
19,45,209: Target for 2015-16
2,17,441: Toilets constructed April-Aug 2015
(With inputs from Mukesh Pandey, Harda)