The third anniversary of the Swachh Bharat
Abhiyan (Clean India Mission), launched on a war footing by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
in 2014, might just come as an embarrassment for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states of the country. These states, two-thirds of all states in India, seem to be faring poorly in implementing the scheme meant to provide a toilet to every Indian household without one.
The worst performers are Bihar
and Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP
came to power this year – in a coalition in Bihar
and with an absolute majority in Uttar Pradesh. Bihar
has constructed only one toilet for every 10 households
without toilets, while 83 per cent of households
in Uttar Pradesh are yet to be provided those. Congress-ruled Karnataka
has shown some progress, albeit tepid – it has built toilets
for a quarter of households
The Left-ruled Kerala, it turns out, is the best-performing state. It has managed to construct toilets
in 82 per cent of the households
that earlier did have those. But a closer look at Kerala’s performance might tell a different story.
statistics show that more than 400,000 people in Kerala live in one-room hutments. This means these people do not have toilets
at their homes. But Kerala has identified only about 200,000 households
as being without toilets.
So, its performance might appear twice as good as it actually is.
This is in stark contrast to BJP-ruled states where the number of households
has been estimated to be far greater than those living in such single-room dwellings. While even those living in two-room dwellings might not have access to toilets, Kerala and West Bengal
seem to have faltered in including even those who never had a toilet in their homes.
One of the ways in which the Clean India Mission aims to provide toilets
in certain pockets of the country is by providing access to community toilets
shared by households.
The BJP-ruled states fare poorly here as well. In states like Rajasthan, such under-privileged households
do not have access to even one toilet. This state, for instance, has 6.5 million households
but has less than 25,000 community toilets
constructed across the state. In Congress-ruled Punjab, meanwhile, a quarter of such households
have access to community toilets.
BJP-ruled states also seem to be the hotbed of open defecation, despite the government’s multi-pronged strategy to stop people with toilets
from answering the call of nature under the open sky. Less than 10 per cent of villages in Jammu & Kashmir
have been declared open-defecation-free. Bihar’s progress on this front has been worse than Kashmir.
Only six per cent of the villages in Bihar
have been declared free of open defecation.