Binoy Viswam, CPI member of Rajya Sabha member from Kerala, speaks to The Indian Express on why he raised questions on the Open Defecation Free (ODF) initiative of the government.
Has there been any improvement in sanitation in the country?
The government has stated that sanitation coverage in the country increased to 96.61% as on November 30, 2018, but the data seems doubtful. They have also informed that 294 districts and 2.5 lakh villages were covered where around 3.3 crore toilets were constructed.
Are you satisfied with the ODF work by the government?
If you travel by rail from Delhi to anywhere during early hours, you will notice people sitting near the tracks. This busts the government’s claim. These numbers are inflated and government should find out where the money has gone. All this seems to be propaganda.
Under the ODF mission, the government provides Rs 12,000 as incentive for individual household latrines. Do you think this money is sufficient?
No, at some places Rs 12,000 may be sufficient, but at some places you cannot construct a latrine with such incentive. This blanket incentive of Rs 12,000 is unrealistic and creates doubt in the mind about the government scheme.
How is the performance of Kerala under ODF?
Kerala was declared ODF long before the central government started its national scheme. If you see the numbers of Kerala from the government’s reply, there was no sanitation initiative in Kerala as it was not required.
What makes you doubt the government data on ODF?
If you look at some of the districts, the government reply says that more than 2 lakh toilets were constructed, but these places are too small and do not seem to have benefited from the central scheme. If you go to these districts, you will find people still defecating in the open.