Declared ODF in 2017, over 66,000 Uttarakhand homes still do not have toilet
Uttarakhand got the Open Defecation Free status in July 2017 but according to government records on its target of constructing toilets in people’s homes under the Swachh Bharat Mission, it plans to sanction funds for 65,664 toilets.
Uttarakhand was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) on June 22, 2017, but there are still more than 66,000 houses in the state that do not have a toilet, an RTI query has revealed.
According to government records on its target of constructing toilets in people’s homes under the Swachh Bharat Mission, there are 65,664 toilets for which it plans to sanction funds, raising questions over the ODF status, which Union minister Narendra Singh had announced for Uttarakhand in 2017, making it the fourth state to get the tag. Under the mission, a family is given Rs 12,000 for the construction of a toilet in their home.
Significantly, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, which was tabled in the state assembly in September last year, had also said that the ODF status was “incorrect”.
In response to an application filed by Hem Chandra Kapil under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the state urban development department said there are 3,302 toilets needed in Champawat; 5,085 in Pauri; 1,087 in Bageshwar; 3,112 in Pithoragarh; 335 in Dehradun; 8,203 in Haridwar; 17,004 in Udham Singh Nagar; 6,528 in Uttarkashi; 5,801 in Tehri; and 2,200 in Rudraprayag. Moreover, the state also needs 1,335 public toilets.
Government spokesperson Madan Kaushik said, “The department has made its assessment for the construction of toilets so that every home is served and we are committed to finish the task very soon,” he said, adding that the problem of open defecation was “minimal” in Uttarakhand and will be “practically over once the toilets have been built”.
The activist, on the other hand, said the government’s response shows that the state was declared ODF without it actually becoming one. “It shows that they were in a hurry to give themselves the tag,” he said.