More than one-fourth of households in villages have no access to toilets, according to the latest official survey conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO).
Around 71.3 per cent of rural households and 96.2 per cent of urban households had access to toilets during 2018, according to the NSO’s 'Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition in India' report, released on Saturday. The survey was conducted between July and December.
The findings have come more than a month after the Prime Minister declared rural India to be open defecation-free (ODF). According to the survey, a household has access to a toilet if a majority of its members has the facility of using it. This included toilets exclusively used by households, commonly used in the same building, or public-use toilets with or without payment.
The National Democratic Alliance(NDA) government in 2014, by launching the Swachh Bharat Mission, had set a target of making rural areas open defecation-free by October 2 this year, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. A target was to 'provide access to toilet facilities to all rural households in the country'.
'Today, rural India has declared itself ‘open defecation-free’. This is the strength and proof of success of the Swachh Bharat Mission. We are getting appreciated and awarded for providing toilets to over 660 million people in 60 months by building 110 million toilets in five years,' Mr. Narendra Modi said at a function in Gujarat on October 2.
Two data sets presented in the survey report — household access to toilets and benefits received from government schemes on sanitation — were at the heart of a disagreement between the NSO and the government on the official survey results, leading to a six-month delay in the release of the report.