India to be ODF by Oct 2019, says Govt
New Delhi: Over three lakh villages and 300 districts have been declared open defecation free (ODF), the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation said on Wednesday.
Secretary Parameswaran Iyer termed this as a 'sanitation revolution' in rural India and said that 15 States/UTs are expected to be declared ODF by March 2018, and also that with this accelerating progress, "the mission is on track to achieve an ODF India by October 2019."
He further added that when Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin was started in 2014, the toilet usage was just 39 per cent, which has increased to 77 per cent till date and the number of people practising open defecation in rural India has decreased from 55 crore in October 2014 to 25 crore in January 2018.
The Secretary also announced a mass media campaign to promote twin pit toilet soon. Sharing a few international studies on the Mission, Iyer also said that Mission was moving from seeing solid liquid waste management to solid and liquid resource management as "waste is a resource that can be tapped and converted to wealth and energy."
"UNICEF estimates that the lack of sanitation is responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 children in India annually. A Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation study estimates that households in ODF villages in India have significantly better health indicators," Iyer said.
Citing the findings of another UNICEF study, Iyer said, "The global body had estimated that a household in an ODF village in India saves Rs 50,000 every year by way of disease treatment costs averted, saving of livelihood by not falling ill, etc. At the macro level, a 2007 World Bank study estimated that lack of sanitation costs India over 6 per cent of our GDP."
Talking about the issue of drinking water in rural parts, he said, "There were a number of initiatives to reform the national rural drinking water programme."