Ankit Sharma Sharma
Green tea Addict | A Tree Hugger | Born for Change
On Wednesday, Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) of India produced a report in Gujarat state assembly stating that Gujarat is not entirely Open Defecation Free (ODF), reports The Indian Express. A day ago, another CAG report presented in the Uttarakhand State Assembly has also pointed out the similar discrepancy in Uttarakhand Government’s claim to be an ODF state.
On October 2017, Gujarat was declared as an ODF state under Swacch Bharath Mission-Gramin (SBM-Gramin). The mission aims to make all states in India ODF by 2nd October 2019 which marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The CAG report which surveyed eight districts in Gujarat, comprising 120 Gram Panchayats, stated that 29% of households don’t have sanitation facilities. Out of 54,008 homes, 15,728 households still lack access to either public or household toilets. Based on this data, the CAG report says “The declaration of the state government that all the districts of Gujarat were ODF does not appear to be correct”. In Kaparada Taluka
of Valsad district, 17,423 toilets were “defunct”. Countering the CAG report, Assistant Commissioner of SBM-Gramin, Gandhinagar said, “2,529 of the 17,423 defunct toilets had been newly constructed and put to use by March 2018.”
In February 2018, an article published by VillageSquare revealed how some villages of Gujarat like Kuha and Maghval still have no toilets, and even if they do, the people hesitate to use it due to lack of awareness and other prejudices.
Not only Gujarat, but Uttrakhand’s claim of Open Defecation Free state was also declared incorrect by CAG. The report says out of 546 proposed sanitation, only 63 were there in the state Out of 1143 constructed latrines in the villages, 41 were missing physically, and 34 were still under construction, so the state is not ODF said the CAG report, as per Times of India. It is also found that 71% of toilets were built without technical assistance.
SBM-Gramin was started on 2nd October 2014 with a vision to make India Open Defecation Free (ODF), particularly in rural areas, by 2nd October 2019. The primary objective is to enhance sanitation coverage in rural areas and to establish sanitation systems wherever required in public places. It is regulated by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS). According to India Today, on 8th February, the Government had Informed the Lok Sabha that 11 states, Including Gujarat and Uttarakhand, became Open Defecation Free (ODF).
Government is trying to accomplish SBM by 2019, but reports claim that its unaccountability and negligence is leading to false claims. The Central Government allotted Rs. 22,357cr for MDWS in the fiscal year 2018-19 and 15,343cr was allocated for SBM-Gramin. Although such a huge amount was allocated, several constructed toilets are reported to be without proper water facilities. Such misleading claims are not expected from the State Governments without proper verification of the ground level situation.
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