Total Sanitation in Rural Areas has been a focus area for successive governments at the center. While the UPA formulated the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, the NDA came up with the Swachh Bharat Mission. Going by pure numbers, more than 11 crore rural households do not have a toilet. The average number of toilets constructed per year in the last 4 years is about 57.2 lakh. At this pace, the target of 100% toilets by 2019 looks highly impossible. Even tripling the current rate may not be enough.
Successive Governments at the center have made rural sanitation as one of their core focus areas. The UPA’s flagship program for the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) was Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, (NBA). The NBA’s goal was to transform rural India into Nirmal Bharat and achieve 100% sanitation in rural areas by the year 2022. In other words, toilet access to all rural households would be achieved by the year 2022. The NDA after coming to power launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) which aims at attaining a 100% Open Defecation Free India by 2019. But if the history of construction of toilets in the last 4 years is anything to go by, it will easily take 15 more years to achieve the goal of 100% Open Defecation free Rural India.
Lack of Toilets & Open Defecation
According to the 2011 Census, more than 67% of the rural households in India do not have access to a toilet. In absolute numbers, it is a staggering 11,29,97,499 rural households. In other words more than 11 crore rural households do not have access to a toilet.
As per a report published by World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF) as per the data of the year 2012, around 60% of the of World’s Population defecating in the Open are from India. The statistics from various agencies more or less confirm the trend that more than 60% of the Indian Rural Households do not have access to a toilet.
Within states, Jharkhand has the highest percentage of rural households without a toilet. Here, 9 in every 10 rural households do not have a toilet. Jharkhand is followed by Madhya Pradesh (86%), Chhattisgarh (85%), Odisha (84%), Bihar (81%), Rajasthan (80%), Uttar Pradesh (77%), Tamil Nadu (73%), Karnataka (68%) & Gujarat (65%). Kerala is last on this list with only 5.6% rural households without a toilet.
Construction of Toilets & Amounts Spent
According to the data available with the Government, a total of 2,23,46,505 (more than 2 crore) toilets were constructed for Individual households in the rural area from 2011-12 to 2014-15 (up to February 2015). In other words, more than 2.2 crore toilets were built in about 4 years. The greatest number of toilets was built in 2011-12 (about 88 lakh). After that the number of toilets built per year never crossed the 50 lakh mark. The average for the four years stood at 57.2 lakh. Surprisingly, more than a crore toilets were built in each of the years 2009-10 and 2010-11. It’s been downhill since then.
Within states, highest number of toilets were constructed in Uttar Pradesh (29.7 lakh) followed by West Bengal (25.1 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (23.5 lakh), Bihar (19 lakh) and Karnataka (18.1 lakh) 2011-12 to 2014-15 (up to February 2015).
In terms of amounts released and spent, it is surprising to note that the highest number of toilets was constructed when the expenditure was least. Except in 2012-13, the expenditure was very close to the released amount.
So when will we achieve the target of 100% toilets in Rural India?
If the government continues at the current four year average of 57.2 lakh toilets per year, achieving 100% by 2019 looks highly impossible. If the current rate continues, we can achieve the 100% target by 2030-31, a full 11 years after 2019. If the target of 2019 is to be achieved, even tripling the current rate may not be enough.
Featured Image: The Hindu