'73 pc rural households defecate in open'

Nearly 73 per cent households in rural India practice open defecation despite sanitation drives launched by the government, according to an independent evaluation by the Planning Commission. The study considers a household under the open defecation category if at least one member defecates in the open.

The 'Evaluation Study on Total Sanitation Campaign' is for the reference period April 2001 to March 2009 but was submitted in May this year. The study covers 122 districts, 206 blocks, 1207 gram panchayats and 11,519 beneficiary households across 27 states. The TSC, launched by Centre in 1999, was subsumed into the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) in the Twelfth Five Year Plan to eradicate open defecation by 2017.

"Unavailability of toilets is the main reason for the huge percentage of households still defecating openly. According to our estimates, out of 73 households per 100 rural households where at least one family member practices open defecation, 66 households are forced to do so due to unavailability of toilets, one household is forced to do so due to inadequacy of number of toilets...," the report states. It says "lack of awareness", "age-old practice" and gap between availability and adequacy of toilets are factors that lead to it.

The study says except in Karnataka, Kerala, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Gujarat, households in most of the other states have reported issues relating to toilet-structures. "Only 59 per cent households have toilets that are covered on all sides and have a roof," it says. It says only 46 per cent households have adequate water for flushing and tap water is available in latrines in only 3.61 per cent households.

Reflecting poor sanitation in schools, the study concludes that many government schools in Manipur, Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand are still without any sanitary facilities."

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