India needs to build 78 toilets a minute to meet target

India needs to build 78 toilets a minute to meet target

New Delhi: India’s rural development ministry, which has to build 78 toilets a minute to meet its sanitation goal under the UN Millennium Development Goals, or MDG, by 2012, is confident of meeting the target.

An official in the ministry of rural development, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said: “We expect the new target (100% sanitation access in rural areas by 2012) to be achieved."

Also See A long way to go (Graphic)

Only by building 112,300 toilets every day can India ensure access to toilets for every household, the ministry’s website said.

According to Ishaprasad Bhagwat, director, programme operations, WaterAid India, the local arm of an international organization that works in the area of drinking water and sanitation, while India would “most definitely" achieve the target, it would do so “by 2015" and not “2012 as has been announced by the government of India".

One of the government’s flagship programmes, the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) aims to eradicate open defecation by 2010.

According to the ministry of health and family welfare, poor sanitation and diseases caused by this result in an annual loss of 180 million man-days and an economic loss of Rs1,200 crore in India. According to a Unicef/WHO (United Nations Children’s Fund/World Health Organization) joint study on the country’s progress on sanitation goals, India has a little more than half the 1.2 billion people worldwide who defecate in the open.

While TSC has performed well since 2004 and future predictions augur well for the programme, problems with usage and monitoring persist in areas which have already been provided access to toilets.

This means that people continue to defecate in the open despite access to toilets.

Bhagwat said that while TSC is a well-designed programme, the problem of usage has to be addressed.

Out of the total cost for installing a toilet, the Union government pays 68% and the rest is shared between the beneficiary and the state.

Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint