Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, July 14:
The crores of money pumped in to encourage the construction of toilets in Odisha under the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) have clearly gone down the drains. The obnoxious practice of open defecation is alive and kicking in the state notwithstanding the fact that the state government routinely sends hundreds of nominations for the Niraml Gram Puraskar given out by the Central government every year.
Barely 15.3 per cent of families in Odisha have toilets as per Census 2011, Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation Upendra Kushwaha revealed in the Rajya Sabha today.
“As per the figures of Census 2011, only 14.1% out of the 81.44 lakh rural households in the State latrines including 8.6 per cent having water-closet latrines, 3.4 per cent pit latrines and the rest other types,” Kushwaha said.
A large number of people defecate in the open in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh because they cannot afford to build a toilet from their own resources,” the Minister said in a written reply.
Curiously, an interim report of the CAG paints a much rosier picture of things than the one revealed by the Census data. According to this report, the State met 55 per cent of the target set by the Centre during its project period 2001-2012. Against a target of construction of 71.52 lakh toilets in the State, the Odisha State Water and Sanitation Mission (OSWSM) constructed 39.25 lakh (55 per cent) by March, 2012.
The OSWSM had developed a panchayat-wise intervention plan to achieve 100 per cent sanitation coverage under TSC by March, 2012.
However, during 2009-10, the achievement was 31 per cent, followed by 39 per cent and 34 per cent in 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively, the draft CAG report stated.
Even more curious is the fact that the number of villages recommended for the Nirmal Gram Puraskar, the system of recognition built into the flagship scheme Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) launched by the Centre, keeps increasing every year despite the poor record on the toilet construction front.
No wonder close to 73 per cent of the recommendations of the government have been rejected by the Centre in last three years.
According to an audited report on NGP, 43 out of the 63 recommendations were rejected in 2009-11. Of the 234 recommendation sent in 2010-11, 153 were found ineligible. The corresponding figures the next year, 2011-12, were 222 out of 270.
The Centre administers the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA), a comprehensive programme to ensure sanitation facilities in rural areas with the main objective of eradicating the practice of open defecation and ensuring a clean environment.
The programe also provides for separate toilets for girls in government schools that were built prior to 2007. Separate girls’ toilets are also provided in schools under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scheme.