Toilets were non-existent, partially constructed, did not have water, were not hygienic and had many other shortcomings
India had celebrated a hundred per cent completion of toilet construction in government schools August 15, 2015. Every school supposedly had functional toilets post-Independence Day in 2015.
But the latest report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has revealed that only a third of such toilets claimed to have been constructed by Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE) were complete that month.
The report tabled in Parliament September 23, 2020, also flagged shocking irregularities in the toilets claimed to have been constructed.
Several toilets in government schools were non-existent, partially constructed or lacked hygene and water, among those surveyed by the CAG. There were also no separate toilets for boys and girls in many cases, contrary to claims.
Toilets constructed in government schools by CPSEs
The CPSEs used their fund under the Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan and contributed towards construction of toilets under Corporate Social Responsibility. Around 53 CPSEs participated in this project and constructed 1,40,997 toilets.
Seven CPSEs of these 53 constructed more than 5,000 toilets each and 130,703 toilets in total, at a cost of Rs 2,162.60 crore. The CAG audit examined the records pertaining to the construction of toilets by these seven CPSEs — NTPC Ltd, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, NHPC Ltd, PFC Ltd, REC Ltd, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd and Coal India Ltd. It also conducted a physical survey of a sample of 2,695 toilets across 2,048 schools in 15 states.
In the dumps
Eleven per cent of toilets were found to be non-existent or partially constructed. Around 27 per cent of the surveyed educational institutes did not have separate toilets for boys and girls.
Thirty per cent of the fully constructed toilets that were surveyed, were not in use due to lack of running water and maintenance. Toilets were even found to be locked up or used for various other purposes.
Seventy-five per cent of the surveyed toilets were not maintained hygienically. Water connections to toilets were also not adequate. Seventy-two per cent of the toilets did not have running water in toilets.
Hand-washing facilities were also lacking in more than 50 per cent of the surveyed toilets. The CAG report also found defective construction and damaged or overflowing leach pits.
The CAG report also noted that the CPSEs were required to conduct surveys in identified schools before starting the construction of toilets. There were differences in the number of toilets (constructed by the seven CPSEs) reported by different ministries, it added.
The CAG had surveyed only two per cent toilets for the report. It advised the CPSEs to review / survey the remaining 98 per cent toilets and take appropriate action for rectification of deficiencies.
The findings put a big question mark on the success of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as India prepares to celebrate the first anniversary of being open defecation-free October 2, 2020.
The toilets were constructed from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan. Different public sector units had also channelised their funds for such constructions to different districts.
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