More than half of the people who responded to nature's calls in open in the villages across the country till October 2014 have now stopped doing so.
The Economic Survey 2017-18 presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament on Monday noted that while 55 crore people defecated in open in rural areas till October 2014, only 25 crore were found to be doing the same at present.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in October 2014.
The survey took note of the fact that quality of hygiene and sanitation had a significant impact on improving the health outcomes. It noted that with the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) on October 2, 2014, the sanitation coverage in rural India had increased substantially from 39% in 2014 to 76% in January 2018.
Altogether 307,349 villages in the 296 districts across the country have so far been declared Open Defecation Free or the ODF. Eight states - Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh and Gujarat - and two Union Territories - Chandigarh and Daman & Diu - have been declared to be completely ODF, the Economic Survey noted.
It quoted the surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Office and Quality Council of India on the usage of toilets by the individuals having access to the toilets. Both reported more than 90% of the individuals using toilets in 2016 and 2017, it added.
The Economic Survey noted that substantial reduction in the number of persons defecating in open in rural areas had positive health and economic impact in the ODF areas. It quoted a UNICEF report titled "Financial and Economic Impact of SBM in India" estimating that a household in an ODF village in rural areas of the country could save Rs 50,000 every year.