In a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit survey report of toilets built for schools by seven Central Public Sector Enterprises, it is revealed that 30 percent of them were not in use, 72 percent did not have running water, 55 percent did not have handwashing facilities, and 30 percent had no soap or disinfectants. The report was tabled in Parliament on September 23, 2020.
As many of the schools are nearing reopening amid the current pandemic with handwashing being a big part of preventive medical advice against the spread of the infection, the survey, conducted in 2019 and sent to the Union government on January 2, 2020, holds great significance.
“The Prime Minister announced on August 15, 2014, that all schools “should have separate toilets for boys and girls within a year and called upon the corporate sector to give priority to this national endeavour as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility,” the CAG report mentions.
The report also states, “To achieve the objective of separate toilets for boys and girls within a year, Ministry of Human Resources Development launched (September 1, 2014) Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan and sought the cooperation of other ministries to impress upon the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) under their administrative control to participate in the project for the construction of toilets in government schools. 53 CPSEs participated in this project and constructed 1,40,997 toilets as per MHRD.”
About 1.3 lakh toilets were constructed through seven CPSEs—NTPC, PGCIL, NHPC, PFC, REC, ONGC and CIL—at a cost of Rs 2162.6 crore. The audit focused on these toilets and “conducted a physical survey of a sample of 2,695 toilets across 2,048 schools in 15 States”.
Of the 2,612 toilets reported by CPSEs to have been constructed, 200 toilets were not found constructed and 86 toilets were found to be partially constructed, totalling 11 percent. “Out of 1,967 coeducational schools surveyed by Audit, 99 had no functional toilets while 436 had only one functional toilet. The objective of providing separate toilets for boys and girls was not fulfilled in these 535 cases (27 percent),” points out the report.
The report also says that of the 2,326 constructed toilets, 30 percent (691) 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”. As per SVA, toilets were to be provided with running water, hand washing facilities and regular maintenance.
Of the 1,119 toilets by Coal India Limited in the audit, 14 percent were found unbuilt or partially constructed in Odisha, MP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, while 17 percent of the 564 toilets built by NTPC were either non-existent or partially constructed in Bihar, West Bengal, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.
Based on metrics set by the MHRD, the audit report graded toilets from 5 stars to 1 star. A five-star rating was given to 29 percent of toilets built by Power Finance Corporation and 19 percent of ONGC toilets—with these two being the best performers. Sixty percent of toilets by PGCIL and 45 percent by REC were given the lowest 1-star rating.
Source: The Indian ExpressNational, News