Millions of poor families in Bihar are still living without toilets as the state government has failed to provide the facility at their homes, an official said on Monday.
Latest data from Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) shows that over 7.57 million households in Bihar, particularly in the rural areas, don't have toilets.
"The government has aimed at providing toilet facilities to more than 11 million families in the state this year. But till last month, only 41,13,545 households had been provided toilets," a PHED official said.
PHED will provide toilets to 8,25,248 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and 4,52,350 Above Poverty Line (APL) families during 2012-13. "The government has decided to achieve its target of providing toilet facilities to more than 11 million families by 2017," the PHED official said.
Bihar PHED Minister Chandra Mohan Rai said that it is a hard fact that millions of poor people in Bihar still don't have toilet facilities, which forces them to defecate in the open. "The state government is working to provide toilets to all families," Rai said.
The Bihar government launched a special scheme named after veteran socialist leader Rammanohar Lohia in 2007 to speed up construction of toilets, but its implementation has been lagging.
The central government has launched the Total Sanitation Campaign to ensure sanitation facilities in rural areas to eradicate open defecation. But Bihar is among the states lagging behind.
Two years ago, Oliver Cumming, a senior policy analyst with London-based international NGO WaterAid was in Bihar to devise ways to make the state free of open defecation in two years.
Cumming observed that an estimated 85 million toilets were needed to stop open defecation.
WaterAid, in partnership with PHED, has tied up with Unicef, the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Programme and Britain's Department for International Development for a project to make Bihar free from open defecation by 2012.