Karnataka has slashed its toilets target by over 40,000 after authorities found that there was no demand wherever they were initially proposed to be constructed under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
For 2020-21, Karnataka set a target of building 4.76 lakh toilets for households that were left out. Now, 41,596 toilets have been deleted from the target, according to official data.
Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the government provides assistance of Rs 12,000 (Rs 15,000 for SC) for a household to construct a toilet.
The deletion of over 40,000 toilets came even as authorities were struggling to meet the construction target.
“We get proposals for toilets that get included in the target. But, on the field, we find that there won’t be demand,” Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Principal Secretary L K Atheeq said. “Other reasons include lack of space to build the toilet, duplication of beneficiaries and so on,” he added.
Of the 4.76 lakh targeted toilets, construction has been completed or is in progress for 4.18 lakh toilets. That left 58,064 toilets that authorities had to complete within December 30, requiring 5,806 toilets to be taken up every day. Now that 41,596 toilets have been deleted, the run rate has come down.
“We are not readily agreeing for deletion,” Atheeq said. “The panchayat development officer (PDO) has to give it in writing before deletion.”
In November 2018, rural Karnataka was declared open-defecation free (ODF) after 45.42 lakh toilets were constructed for as many households that had no access to toilets. The toilets being constructed now are for those left out of the 2012 baseline survey (LOB) and those categorised under no one left behind (NOLB).
According to data, the highest toilets target is in Kalaburagi at 62,188, followed by Vijayapura (38,627) and Ballari (31,215) - all in north Karnataka.
Apparently, the need for beneficiaries to invest money from their own pockets is slowing down the rate of toilet construction. “A toilet requires Rs 25,000-40,000,” an official pointed out.
The only solace is that at least 75% of the toilets constructed under the Swachh Bharat Mission are being used, according to the official. “People are finding it increasingly difficult to defecate in the open.”