CAG audit may be sought if states fail to disclose correct information, says secretary for drinking water and sanitation
The secretary of Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) has set up a high-level committee to look into the huge discrepancy between its data on toilets built under its sanitation programme and what exists on ground. The discrepancy came to light following the 2011 Census findings that said the number of rural households across the country that don't have a toilets were many more than what the ministry claimed.
The Census figure showed that only 30.79 per cent of rural Indian households have toilets, whereas data compiled by the ministry showed that 53.09 per cent of the country's rural households were covered by the sanitation drive by December 2010. The difference between the ministry data and Census data is 22.30 per cent, which translates into more than 37.5 million missing toilets. All these toilets were built for individual households under the government's flagship programme, Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), in a period of 10 years. TSC was started in 1999 and was renamed Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) in 2012.
Pankaj Jain, secretary with the ministry, had expressed serious concern on the matter during a closed-door meeting with senior officials of concerned departments of state governments last week.
“Media reported that many toilets exist only on paper and ministry data does not tally with Census data. On one hand we have 600 million people defecating in the open and on the other hand we are unable to construct toilets. I feel it is a disturbing trend,” said Jain (see 'Where are the missing toilets?').
He added that state departments are accountable to the ministry, which is accountable to the nation. “That’s why we have constituted a committee to look into the matter.”
He added that the ministry may seek an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) if the states fail to disclose correct information.
Sarswati Prasad, joint secretary for sanitation, ascribed the discrepancy in data to “over-reporting” of toilets which are not constructed and exist only on paper. “The Ministry is not in position to take a call on which figure is correct,” he said.
Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh top the list of states where toilets built under TSC are missing in large numbers (see table). But there seems to be a serious flaw in MDWS data which claimed that in Kerala there is no sanitation coverage for 78 per cent rural households, whereas Census figure showed this figure to be around seven per cent.
|Compare ministry data with Census 2011 data
|State||Percentage of households sans toilets
(As per MDWS data)
|percentage of rural households sans toilets
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.