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India backsliding on many important health indicators, need of transparent sanitation audit: Jairam Ramesh

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New Delhi | December 2, 2023 1:50:43 AM IST
Congress on Friday alleged that the Swachh Bharat Mission of the Modi government was repackaging of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, which was launched by the UPA government in September 2011, and that usage of toilets has been declining in India since 2018, "with the decline is most concentrated among SC and ST communities".

Party leader Jairam Ramesh said in a post on 'X' that staff for sanitation has been reduced and payments have been delayed.

He alleged that far from tall claims about making India free from open defecation, over 25 per cent of rural households still do not regularly use a toilet.

Jairam Ramesh referred to a report 'World Bank papers show 'most concerning' decline in toilet usage. Withdrawn 'under pressure' later', published by The Print and said there is a need for an open and transparent audit of toilet usage and sanitation in India.

"The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan launched in September 2011 got repackaged and rebranded as Swachh Bharat Mission. The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan had launched massive programmes to make every gram panchayat Open Defecation Free. It had started popularising the use of biotoilets in trains. Swachhata Doots like Vidya Balan were mobilised," he said.

"Innovative slogans were popularized and concurrent evaluation by independent agencies was encouraged. Now, a report from the World Bank shows that the repackaged Swachh Bharat Mission, launched after so much hype, has not been sustained. Usage of toilets has been declining in India since 2018, with the decline is most concentrated among SC and ST communities," he added.

Jairam Ramesh alleged that after the initial fanfare, "the Prime Minister has moved onto other schemes, headlines and events".

"Staff for sanitation has been reduced and payments have been delayed. Indeed, far from tall claims about making India free from open defecation, over 25 per cent of rural households still do not regularly use a toilet," he said.

"Expectedly, the Print reports that the World Bank faced 'a lot of heat' from the Modi government, and had to withdraw these papers. Instead of suppressing data and declaring victory over open defecation, what is needed is an open and transparent audit of toilet usage and sanitation in India, along with reversing budget cuts. This is even more important at a time when India has been backsliding on many important health indicators since 2014 with sharp increases especially in anaemia and child malnutrition," he alleged. (ANI)

 
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