New Delhi :
A senior government official on Tuesday sought to refute reports claiming poor use of toilets constructed under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM-Gramin), saying their usage is on “higher side”.
“So far 2.2 crore toilets have been constructed after the Mission was announced (nearly two years ago). The good news is the usage is on higher side.
“Surveys by NSSO and Quality Council of India have shown the usage is high, it is above 90 percent. Of course, there may be some aberrations,” Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water And Sanitation, said in a press briefing here.
He also said the Centre is giving impetus to making villages open defecation free (ODF).
To a question on maintenance of the toilets constructed, he said given majority of them are household ones, “assumption is the households will continue to maintain those”.
He, however, admitted cleanliness of toilets built in schools/institutions “is an issue” and added the government is focusing on how to maintain those.
“We are now focusing more on becoming open defecation free, because it (the Mission) is not a construction (of toilet) programme, but usage programme. You will have to ensure behavioural changes in becoming ODF,” he added.
The NDA government has set a deadline of year 2019 to become ODF. The official informed 17 districts and 77,000 villages across the country have become ODF till now and noted the pace is “increasing”.
Sikkim has already announced itself as an ODF state. Out of the total 1,651 gram panchayats located along the Ganga river, 300 have already become ODF, he added.
“Now the challenge is bigger as there are 6,50,000 villages. But we are confident, we are on track,” he said.
Amita Prasad, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest and Director General National Cadet Corps Major General JS Sandhu briefed media about activities undertaken by their respective departments under Swachh Pakhwada (Cleanliness Fortnight) between August 1 and 15.