The ‘Flushed’ reality behind Toilet Construction

A Survey conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) revealed that about 40% of the toilets in the government schools, built as a result of the Swachh Vidhalaya inititative, were partially constructed, unutilized or did not exist at all.

Under the Right to Education plan, the civic units claimed to have built around 1.4 lakh toilets in government schools. But the survey by the CAG revealed the opposite and confirmed that over 70% of the toilets lacked running water facilities and about 75% lacked general hygiene and maintenance.

Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan

The Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan is a national campaign which intends to create a blooming school environment amongst school children. A key feature of the campaign is to ensure that every school in India has a set of functioning and well maintained water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan was launched as a response to a pledge made by the Prime Minister in August, 2014.

It was estimated by the government authorities that around 2.63 lakh schools would be provided with 4.10 lakh functional toilets by August 2015, giving every child access to sanitation facilities. These toilets were to be constructed in schools that are located in the most difficult terrains, densely crowded slums, thick forests and areas facing the problems of revolt and radicalism.

The Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan has proved to be an integrated approach, driven by a comprehensive perspective on sanitation. The campaign attempts to combine three components namely water, sanitation and hygiene through a set of facilities developed at schools.

Facts and Stats

The Ministry of Human Resource Development‘s Swachh Vidyalaya initiative included a mandate that all schools must have separate toilets for boys and girls.

The number of government schools stand at around 10.8 lakh. Above 1.4 lakh toilets in these schools were built by 53 civic organizations. The CAG conducted a physical survey of approximately 2,695 toilets, built by these companies, in 15 States.

Around 691 toilets “were found not in use mainly due to lack of running water, lack of cleaning arrangements, damages to the toilets and other reasons like use of toilets for other purposes, toilets locked up, etc,”
-said the audit report.

Out of the 1,967 co-educational schools, 99 schools lacked functional toilets while 436 schools had only a single functional toilet. This shows that the authorities failed to provide separate toilets for boys and girls in 27% of the schools.

The civic enterprises or the Public sector services were required to construct toilets with running water and hand washing facilities. Toilets were to be maintained for a period of three to five years. The survey revealed that 72% of constructed toilets did not have running water facilities, while 55% lacked hand washing provisions. The audit also noted “cases of defective construction of toilets, non-provision of foundation/ramp/staircase and damaged/overflowed leach pit, which led to ineffective use of toilets”.

75% of toilets did not follow the rule of daily cleaning. In addition to this, 715 toilets were not being cleaned at all, while 1,097 were being cleaned once a month. “Cases of non-provision of soap, bucket, cleaning agents and disinfectants in toilets and inadequate cleanliness of pathway were also noticed,” the report added.

Here’s what Prof. Saugata Roy had to say about the future of public sanitation facilities under the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan:

About the Author

K. Shiva Sai
Been a National Level footballer and a quizzer.

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