New Delhi: Construction of toilets in rural areas will be de-linked from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA or NREGA), Nitin Gadkari, minister for drinking water and sanitation, said on Tuesday.

The previous government’s decision to create a convergence between MGNREGA and toilet construction did not work well, Gadkari told a workshop and exhibition on innovation technology for sanitation and water quality in rural areas.

“Convergence between MGNREGA and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan did not work well. Construction of toilets will be de-linked from MGNREGA," Gadkari said.

Jairam Ramesh, the rural development minister in the erstwhile UPA government, had announced last year that individual household toilet work will be covered under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan Scheme in convergence with MGNREGA or independently under MGNREGA.

The ministry for drinking water and sanitation has also prepared a cabinet note for increasing monetary support for building toilets in rural India.

The amount will be raised to 15,000 from 10,000 for rural households; 54,000 from 35,000 for schools; 6 lakh from 2 lakh for community sanitary complexes; and 20,000 from 8,000 for anganwadi toilets.

Along with monetary support from the government, the ministry plans to generate funds through corporate social responsibility schemes.

“We will appeal to all the finance institutions in the world as this is a task that has no conflict. Our department along with the prime minister is in talks with these institutions. We have already received a few proposals from financial institutions like the World Bank," he added.

Gadkari said states had different requirements and standards in terms of the number of toilets required, the availability of water and waste water management.

Gadkari added: “We can keep separate plans from state to state."

The ministry plans to finish building separate toilets for boys and girls in every school by 15 August next year. “Girls have to drop out of school due to the lack of toilets and privacy. This is something that we will immediately start and complete it in one year," said Pankaj Jain, secretary, ministry of drinking water and sanitation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech had announced a “Swachh Bharat" (Clean India) by 2019 as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary. To achieve this goal in the next four-and-a-half years, the ministry wants innovative and low-cost technology.

According to a joint report by UN agencies Unicef and WHO (World Health Organization), 597 million Indians defecate in the open. This makes India the country with the largest number of people in the world who defecate in the open.

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