More than half of the government school toilets built by central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) do not have a basic hand-washing facility at a time when the country is struggling to contain the deadly coronavirus, a survey conducted of over 2,000 schools by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed.
The CAG report tabled in Parliament on Wednesday also found lack of running water, poor maintenance and unavailability of separate toilets for girls at schools.
The report mentions that the Education ministry had under the Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan (SVA) together with the CPSEs constructed toilets in government schools. Separate toilets for boys and girls have also been recommended under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE Act) norms.
As many as 53 CPSEs constructed 1,40,997 toilets. Seven CPSEs - NTPC, PGCIL, NHPC, PFC, REC, ONGC and CIL - constructed 1,30,703 toilets at a cost of ₹2,162.60 crore. The CAG surveyed 2,695 toilets across 2048 schools in 15 States.
According to the report, the CPSEs did not construct 83 toilets though these toilets were identified by them for construction. Of the remaining 2,612 toilets which were reported to have been constructed, 200 toilets were not constructed in the respective schools and 86 toilets were only partially built.
"The non-existing and partially constructed toilets constituted 11 % of toilets surveyed," the CAG report found.
Of the 1,967 co-educational schools, 99 schools had no functional toilets while 436 schools had only a single functional toilet. The aim of providing separate toilets for boys and girls was not fulfilled in 535 schools, which constitute 27 % of the schools that were surveyed.
Out of 2,326 constructed toilets surveyed, 30% were found not in use mainly due to insufficient running water, lack of cleaning arrangements, damages.
During the survey, 1,679 (72%) out of 2,326 constructed toilets were found without running water facility. Further, hand washing facility was not available in 1,279 (55 per cent) out of 2,326 constructed toilets, the report found.
There were also instances of defective construction of toilets, non-provision of staircase and damaged or overflowed leach pit, among others.
The audit also found that proper maintenance or sanitation was not available in 1,812 out of 2,326 toilets. 715 out of 1,812 toilets were not being cleaned. 1,097 toilets were being cleaned about twice in a week to once in a month.
The CAG also suggested the ministries to monitor the issue of non-existing and incomplete toilets that were claimed as 'constructed'. The CPSEs are also advised to review the remaining 98 per cent toilets and take proper action.
The report also mentioned that pre-fabricated structures were used for constructing many toilets which led to increasing expenditure, dilution in durability and non-compliance with direction.
The audit also found that the agencies were paid implementation charges at 10 to 15 per cent of completion cost which were high as compared to 2.5 to 3 per cent paid to State Government Agencies (SGAs) and involved an additional expenditure of ₹49.30 crore.