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93% of rural households now have access to toilets, over 9 crore toilets built under Swachh Bharat Mission

"The survey was conducted between November 2018 and February 2019 and covered 92,040 households in 6,136 villages across States and Union Territories of India," the drinking water and sanitation ministry said.

Under the NDA government’s flagship scheme the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ (clean India mission), over 93 percent of rural households in India now have access to toilets out of which around 96.5 percent households have used the facility.

Last year, 77% of rural Indian households had toilets. So this is a significant jump. According to a government-commissioned survey, 95.4 percent of the villages had minimal litter and stagnant water.

The open defecation free (ODF) status of 90.7 percent villages which were declared by various districts and states was also reconfirmed by the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2018-19, conducted by an independent verification agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

“The survey was conducted between November 2018 and February 2019 and covered 92,040 households in 6,136 villages across States and Union Territories of India,” the drinking water and sanitation ministry said.

The findings of the survey were presented on Tuesday to an expert working group developed for the oversight of NARSS, comprising representatives from organisations including the World Bank, UNICEF, Water Aid, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, India Sanitation Coalition, Sulabh International, Knowledge Links, Niti Aayog, ministry of statistics and program implementation.

The Ministry’s own tracking system claims that 98.9 percent of households across the country have access to toilets, with only four states, namely, Goa, Odisha, Telangana, and West Bengal are falling short of 100 percent coverage. Ministry data shows that 5.54 lakh villages claim to be open defecation free or ODF. The new NARSS survey has found that 90.7% of these villages can be confirmed as ODF.

The government asserted that since its launch in October 2014, the Swachh Bharat Mission has changed the behavior of hundreds of millions of people with respect to toilet access and usage. “500 million people have stopped defecating in the open since the SBM began, down from 550 million at the beginning of the programme to less than 50 million today,” the ministry confirmed, furthering that “Over nine crore toilets have been built across rural India under the Mission. Over 5.5 lakh villages and 615 districts have been declared ODF, along with 30 ODF States and Union Territories.”

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a flagship initiative of Modi led NDA government had been termed as the ‘biggest sanitation movement’ in the world by the World Bank. This initiative has received several acclamations from organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF.

Giving full credit to PM Modi for spearheading the Swachh Bharat mission, the vice president of the World Bank South-East Asia region, Hartwig Schafer, said in October 2018, that it is not just a sanitation programme. “It is a growth mission.”

Similarly, referring to Prime Minister’s ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’ the UNICEF executive director, Henrietta Fore had in October last year said, “The prime minister invested political time and effort and what it meant was people began picking up that story. They want to do it for Mahatma Gandhi, for their country and they felt pride in it”.

The flagship cleanliness drive, launched by the prime minister in 2014, aims to clean up the streets, roads, and infrastructure of India’s cities, towns, and rural areas.

PM Modi, in September last year, while launching ‘Swachhta Hi Seva’ campaign had said the sanitation coverage in the country has increased from almost 40 percent to nearly 90 percent and asserted that the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ is playing a central role in creating a healthy India.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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