The central government has said it will take 10 years to achieve total sanitation in the country. "It will take 10 years to make all gram panchayats...nirmal gram panchayats...," minister Jairam Ramesh said in Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour on Tuesday.
He said it took about a year to make village panchayat a nirmal gram panchayat where there is no open air defecation.
There are about 2.60 lakh gram panchayats in the country and as per the latest population census data, only about 28,000 of them have achieved total sanitation.
Replying to supplementary questions, the minister said while data provided by state governments show sanitation coverage is 68 per cent in the country, the census puts the figure at only about 33 per cent.
There is a huge difference between the data provided by the state governments and census, Ramesh said, adding, "I tend to believe census numbers....We have to go a long way before we achieve total sanitation."
He said the aim of the government is to make India an open air defecation free country in the next 10 years. He said Sikkim has become the first nirmal state achieving full sanitation coverage and Himachal Pradesh would soon get the distinction.