Govt to hike funds for building toilets

NEW DELHI, Apr 25: Noting that the amount allocated for construction of toilets in rural areas was very low, the Government today said it would hike the fund under the total sanitation programme from Rs 2,200 to Rs 9,900 per household.

“The total Rs 2,200 assistance given by the state and the Central Government is meagre to build a toilet…That is one of the reasons why the politicians and the civil servants who work on sanitation in New Delhi never use the toilets that they have given assistance for…And we expect people to use these toilets,” Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said at a regional conference organised by the UNICEF here.

“We are very niggard in our assistance. Now, we are revisiting all these norms and very soon we will be notifying the changes,” the minister, who also holds the portfolio of Drinking Water and Sanitation, said.

The Government is working on increasing the allocation to Rs 9,900 per household, of which Rs 5,400 will come from the total sanitation campaign and the rest Rs 4,500 will be covered under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, he said.

The convergence is being done to make sure that better community facility can be created using the funds of rural job scheme and sanitation programme, Ramesh said.

The minister said it is a shame that the country still cannot provide basic toilet facilities to 60 per cent women.

“Nothing can be more shameful for us. Unless we develop a sense of shame, a sense of anger, we are not going to do anything…It is going to be business as usual,” he said.

Ramesh stressed that passion was needed to make the total sanitation programme a success.

“We build toilets, which are not going to be used, we give money as subsidy which are going to be leaked out. I think, unless we recognise, this is a matter of shame for us, unless we get angry about it, unless we develop this into national ‘junoon (craze)’,” he said.

Noting that about 40 per cent of schools in the country do not have separate toilet facilities for girls, Ramesh said, “If I want to prioritise where the public investment is needed it is really in providing very substantial upgrading of toilet facilities for girls in rural schools.”

He said there is a “complete disconnect” between the data provided by some State Governments under total sanitation campaign and the Census data on the construction of toilets in the rural areas.

“There is complete disconnect. There is complete dishonesty on our part…The coverage of sanitation that we are claiming under the total sanitation campaign is completely different from what the census report shows,” he said.

Ramesh also said the sanitation sector is the area which is “crying out for innovation” and indicated the Government may form a partnership with Finland on ecological sanitation.

“I have talked to my colleagues. We are going to be seen how we can have a partnership,” Ramesh, who visited Finland recently, said. (PTI)