Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to build toilets for every Indian, and especially for women and girls, could provide a Rs. 1.65-2.2 lakh crore stimulus to the economy over five years. The PM’s plan for a “Swach Bharat” could, thus, help the economy claw back to a higher growth trajectory.
According to Census 2011, about 113 million households do not have access to toilets and members of these households, including women and girls, defecate in the open, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. This is believed to be one of the reasons for the rise in crime against women.
HT spoke to several public sector contractors to arrive at a cost of Rs. 15,000-20,000 for a basic, functional toilet. The cost includes the price of bricks, cement, sand, roof, door, sanitary ware, plumbing, septic tank and labour.
At this price, it will cost between Rs. 1.65 lakh crore and Rs. 2.2 lakh crore to build toilets for all 113 million households. Even if only half this amount is spent, it will still be a massive sum. The PM also wants separate toilets for girls in every school.
“This will not only improve living standards of our citizens and have a deep impact on women’s safety and literacy but also give a strong boost to construction activity and job creation,” said Sidharth Birla, president, Ficci.
In India 101,443 out of the 1.09 million functional schools do not have a toilet for girls, according to the ministry of human resource development. In his Independence Day speech, Modi pointed out that lack of proper sanitation facilities are driving girls away from schools.
“In addition to the health and environment benefits, there will be employment opportunities, which will give an impetus to the economy,” Nagesh Kumar, director, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, told HT.
Bharti Foundation and IT bellwether TCS have promised to invest more than Rs. 100 crore each on building toilets in schools. Oriental Bank of Commerce has pledged Rs. 2 crore and Coca-Cola India Rs. 7 crore on providing amenities like toilets, access to water and basic infrastructure in schools.