The Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in its reply to the Bombay High Court (HC) regarding a petition that sought directions to include sanitary napkins as an essential commodity, said that under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), it has constructed 10.87 crore individual household toilets and 85,784 community sanitary complexes or common toilets in rural areas across the country since 2014 with the help of state governments and Union Territories.
The Centre recently filed an affidavit in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) by law students Nikita Gore and Vaishnavi Gholave through advocate Vinod Sangvikar, that sought a direction to the authorities for effective implementation of the 'Menstrual Hygiene Management National Guidelines, 2015'.
The PIL also sought various reliefs such as access to toilet to every household, access to separate toilet to every adolescent school girls, access to affordable and hygienic menstrual absorbents during menstruation, and generating awareness regarding menstruation, among others.
The state governments implement the scheme under the SBM (Grameen) programme which aims at making villages open-defecation free. As part of this, the department had constructed nearly 10.87 crore household toilets and 85,784 community toilets across India.
The affidavit also informed the court that according to a recent survey conducted by an independent agency under the World Bank, till date 94.4 per cent of the households in rural areas have access to toilets. The affidavit was submitted through Maganlal Mangtu Ram, Under Secretary, Union Ministry of Jal Shakti Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation.
"Access to safe hygienic toilets has been provided to rural households under SBM in the form of individual household latrines and community sanitary complexes. The same could be achieved with the construction of more than 10 crore individual household toilets across various states or Union Territories under the programme and states declaring themselves as open defecation-free," the affidavit stated, according to The Indian Express report.