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Only Gujarat met toilet-building target under Swachh Bharat: report

Only Gujarat and Chandigarh met their targets for toilet construction for households, according to a TERI University report released this week.

environment Updated: Oct 29, 2017 15:09 IST
A defunct toilet at a primary school in Ghazipur, in Bihar’s Nawada district.
A defunct toilet at a primary school in Ghazipur, in Bihar’s Nawada district.((Ruchir Kumar/HT Photo))

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised efforts to clean up the Chandrapur fort in the October 29 edition of Mann ki Baat, a new report from TERI University, USAID and Coca-Cola, found that states are struggling the larger task of proper waste management under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

Barring Gujarat, none of the states in India met their targets for toilet-building in urban areas according to the report titled: ‘State of Urban Water and Sanitation in India’ released Friday.

The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is a flagship programme of the Modi government, and many BJP-ruled states fare better on most indicators. However, three-quarters of the states did not even meet half of their targets for building toilets in households, until April 2017. Not even Gujarat met its target for common toilets and public toilets.

“Today, India is fighting a decisive battle for cleanliness and hygiene through the Swachh Bharat Mission. It is time for each one of us to commit ourselves towards ensuring public hygiene, personal hygiene and environmental hygiene. It is remarkable to note that the government, politicians, celebrities, NGOs, private enterprises are all working together to achieve a common goal,” Manoj Kumar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, said.

The urban development ministry is the nodal agency that is responsible for SBM in 4041 towns across India. The central government revised targets for toilet building downwards for urban areas from 1.04 crore to 66.42 lakh based on state government evaluations, which is a 36% decrease than the initial targets when SBM was launched.

States are struggling to meet even these lower targets. The report noted that along with construction of toilets, the government needs to revise the water supply to urban and rural areas to make the toilets usable.

The government has adopted a toilets- first approach, “because unless toilets are built we cannot move forward,” Arun Kansal, a co-author of the study and head of department, Department of Regional Water Studies, TERI University, said.

One of the key goals of SBM is to make the country ODF (Open Defecation Free) by 2019. But the numbers do not present a clear picture because it isn’t clear if places that have declared themselves ODF are actually free of open defecation may not be so. After a local body declares its area ODF, it has to be certified by the government and then independently verified. Third party verification has happened for very few states.

The report also highlighted that access to improved water sources has remained stagnant for 15 years between 2000 and 2015. Access to piped water which is considered the best for drinking water actually fell in the 15-year period.