Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambition of making India free from open defecation through his ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ needs a big push from all quarters.
The goal is to construct at least 110 million individual toilets by 2018-19. A bigger thrust is also required for constructing these in schools. Data from the department of drinking water and sanitation showed 17,000 toilets were constructed in schools between April 2014 and January 2015, much lower than the 28,000 in the same period in 2013-14.
According to the India sanitation map of WaterAid India, a non-government body, the country will have a total of around 18 mn toilets by the end of 2018-19 at the current pace of construction, against the target of 110 mn. The analysis is based on data sourced from the department earlier referred to and the Centre’s own Swatch Bharat Mission portal, beside an official 2012 baseline survey.
In 2014-15, governments have so far built around 3.2 mn toilets, a big push coming in January, when a little over 700,000 were built, the best in the year. However, this is lower than the 3.6 mn constructed at even the household level in April-January 2013-14. By the time the financial year ended, the number was around five million.
For the remaining two months in 2014-15, around 900,000 each need to be built in February and March at the household level to reach the 2013-14 figure. Some estimates show an investment of around Rs 2 lakh crore is needed over the next five years to fund the programme. The government plans a cess on service tax, expected to be announced in the 2015-16 Union budget.
“We are contemplating transferring the funds directly to panchayats instead of other bodies,” a senior official said.