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Modi promised total sanitation in schools, but it might be difficult to achieve. Here is why

The MHRD ministry, under Smriti Irani, has identified that 80% of schools in seven states are without toilets.

Written by Leela Prasad | New Delhi |
Updated: February 24, 2015 7:52:40 pm
Slogans are scribbled over the walls at the primary government school in the village and the secondary school about 2 km away, on the merits of using toilets and warning children, particularly girl students, against open defecation. (Source: Express Photo by Praveen Khanna) Slogans are scribbled over the walls at the primary government school in the village and the secondary school about 2 km away, on the merits of using toilets and warning children, particularly girl students, against open defecation. (Source: Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

The Narendra Modi government has promised that every school in India would have toilets by August 15, 2015. The construction of toilets officially began on October 2 when the Prime Minister launched the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission. A total of 220,359 schools are being supported since the program’s inception, and 257,008 new toilets are to be constructed, out of which 102,717 toilets would be for girls.

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A total of 14 corporates such as Tata Consulting Services, Mahindra Group and Rotary International have come forward and pledged to construct 3,195 new toilets. The rest are supported by 71 PSUs (86,781 new toilets), and by the state governments under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan schemes.

According to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, they have achieved a “100% booking” for construction of new toilets and only 52% for repairing 162,571toilets dysfunctional toilets. The Progress Monitoring report released by the ministry lists down state-wise figures in two sets, new toilets and dysfunctional toilets. It shows that work at only 39,996 new toilets and 1,424 dysfunctional toilets have been completed in the last five months. The government is currently building at a rate of 8,000 new toilets per month if the current figures are up to date. At this rate, it would take them around 32 months to build all the 257,008 toilets. With August 15 just five months away, the government could construct only around 80,000 toilets.

The MHRD ministry, under Smriti Irani, has identified that 80% of schools in seven states are without toilets. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar and Assam are the seven states where, barring Madhya Pradesh (18,683), there is a requirement of over 20,000 toilets.

Bihar tops the list where 38,657 toilets are required.

In Andhra Pradesh, no new toilets have been constructed so far. In Assam, out of the 24,964 new toilets required only 80 have been completed. Telangana is the only state where over 50% of the work is complete. West Bengal has completed 31% of the 26,406 new toilets required; Bihar 5,728/38,657, Madhya Pradesh 1,563/18,683 and Odisha 2,876/21,655. No new toilets have been completed in 17 states in total.

Andhra Pradesh, in particular, has been pulled up four times by the Supreme Court for lack of toilet facilities in recent years. In a 2012 ruling, the apex court has asked all states to ensure that every school has a toilet for boys and girls within six months. The court passed two more orders asking the Andhra Pradesh government to build toilets in every school by 2013.

This year, a Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant said “The states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana…cannot have innovative ideas to construct a structure, christen it as a toilet and thereafter forget it from their memory.”

The state government of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were asked to submit reports on the state of toilets by March 10.

Only 85 new school toilets were approved by Andhra Pradesh in the year 2014-15, according to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. While the new state of Telangana has approved 956 new school toilets under the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission.

Prime Minister Modi has also asked the 543 MPs to spend 50% of their MPLAD funds on constructing toilets. As of February, more than 90% of our MPs, including Modi, are yet to start spending. The question is will total sanitation in schools will be forgotten from their memory like the Supreme Court had said earlier this year?

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