Survey calls into question Govt's Swachh Bharat claim

Around 71.3 per cent of rural households and 96.2 per cent of urban households had access to toilets during 2018, according to NSO data. (DH photo)

A recent report by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) cast aspersions on the claim by the government led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet Swachh Bharat Mission.

The NSSO report, based on a survey conducted between July 2018 and December 2018, revealed that only 71.30 % of rural households had access to toilets. It brought into question Modi Government's claim in December 2018 that it had been able to ensure access to toilets for 97.64% of the rural households across the country by then.

The ruling BJP had gone gaga over the success of the Swachh Bharat Mission during the parliamentary elections in April-May this year.

The report of the National Sample Survey 76th round on Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition was brought to public domain recently – several weeks after Prime Minister formally declared on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary on October 2, that India was now Open Defecation Free (ODF).

The survey, conducted between July 2018 and December 2018, revealed that 28.7 % of the rural households across the country had no access to a toilet.

The Modi government had informed the Rajya Sabha on December 24, 2018, that the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) had been able to ensure access to toilets for 97.64 % of the rural households by December 20, 2018.

Ramesh Chandappa Jigajigani, the then union Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation, had informed the upper House of Parliament in reply to a question by an MP, that the Modi Government had constructed 8,99,15,014 individual household latrines by December 20, 2018.

Modi had launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014 – just four months after he had been sworn-in for his first term in the office of Prime Minister. The Swachh Bharat Mission had the mandate to make the country Open Defecation Free (ODF) by October 2, 2019.

The NSSO considered a household had access to latrine if a majority of household members had the option of using it, irrespective of whether it was used by them or not. The surveyors collected information on access to latrine in terms of six response options – exclusive use of household, common use of households in the building, public or community use without payment, public or community use with payment, others and no latrine.

It also found that about 94.7 % of the males and 95.7 % of females in rural households with access to toilets used them regularly.

The report, however, took note of the possibility of respondent bias in reporting of access to latrine, as the question on benefits received by the households from government schemes had been asked prior to the question on access of households to latrines.

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