Raju Das SHILLONG, Sept 9 - With the “definition of a toilet changing every 20-odd kms in rural India,” 1.30 crore government-built toilets doesn’t fit any definition in the country and remain unused, with beneficiaries preferring the outdoors for defecation.
Union Minister for Rural Development Chaudhary Birender Singh being felicitated during his visit to Meghalaya to inaugurate the National Consultation on Sanitation Partnership in Shillong on Wednesday. – UB Photos
The startling revelation was made by Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DWS), Choudhary Birender Singh.“This has been there for years. So to think of bringing about a change of mindset in a fortnight is not possible”, he added.
Expressing “deep concern” over the 1.30 crore toilets built by the government remaining non-functional, he wondered how to bring about a change in the mindset of the people, as merely building toilets won’t address the problem of open defecation.
“The government has so far built six crore toilets in the country. Last year alone we built 80 lakh toilets, but just by building toilets we cannot achieve success in our open defecation free programme,” the Minister said about the old habits of people dying hard. The DWS Ministry has targeted 2019 for every household – which now goes outdoors for defecation – to have a toilet.
“The mindset has to change, if we are to succeed in our Swachh Bharat campaign. The government alone cannot do everything, the people must come forward and be part of the change,” Singh, who was here for the National Consultation on Sanitation Partnership, said.
Asked about the way forward, Singh said a lot of awareness programme is being organised at the grassroots level. “The campaign is also being taken forward through social media, NGOs and community leaders,” the Union Minster said.
Exuding confidence about the Northeastern region achieving 100 per cent success in the open defecation free programme, Singh said, in the next two to three years, every household would have a toilet.
He, meanwhile, said that the Centre is providing Rs 10,800 for the construction of each toilet in the NE, while the amount is Rs 9,000 for the rest of the country.