Strap: Rs 10,000 crore spent in the last five years has not shown adequate results, CAG report finds

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the successor to Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, is an even more ambitious project

The Comptroller and Audit General of India (CAG) announced the tabling of 12 reports (of the promised 25) in the parliament on Tuesday. One of the tabled reports that focused on the Total Sanitation Campaign or Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan found alarming discrepancies in fund allocation and its misuse and also a clear failure in the implementation of the sanitation programme.According to the report, almost 60.69% Indians defecate in public – the highest in the world. At a time where India is being touted as one of the fastest growing economies, we are still struggling with basic sanitation. According to the report “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012” submitted by UNICEF and WHO, Pakistan and Bangladesh feature higher on the list of improved sanitation with 34% and 58% respectively. Among the Asian countries, Sri Lanka topped the list with 94%.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sanitation was one of the Millennium Goals adopted by India which culminates at the end of this year. The Central Rural Sanitation Programme – the first structured programme for rural sanitation, was started in 1986 and has been remodified in many avatars since. The latest avatar now known as The Swachh Bharat Mission, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project. Though, whether the declaration and goal for 100% eradication of defecation in India by 2019 will be achieved is yet to be seen.According to the CAG report, a few of the major reasons for the failure in our sanitation programme can be attributed to the lack of intent on the implementation level, effective monitoring and periodic evaluation of the programme. There was a lack of date integrity submitted by the ministries concerned forcing the auditors to deal with and interpret four different sets of data with conflicting numbers.Among the major findings in the report, it was stated that against an objective of constructing 426.32 lakh and 469.76 lakh Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) for Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) project districts could construct only 52.15% and 44.18% respectively. In 53 districts that were audited for this purpose, it was found that 33% of the toilets were defunct due to poor quality of construction, incomplete structure, non-maintenance etc.Another disturbing find was that in the past five years, almost Rs. 10,000 crores has been spent on rural sanitation with not much to show for results. There have also been cases of financial irregularities, improper disbursement of funds, diversion of funds for other unrelated activities and even misappropriation of the allocated funds. Almost Rs 2.28 crore was misappropriated in six states (Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra) while cases of suspected misappropriation to the tune of Rs 25.33 was found in four states namely: Andhra Pradesh, Jharkand and Manipur.Where funds were allocated, it was found in that in the case of nine states, an amount of Rs 212.14 crore remained parked and unutilized at the implementation level for periods ranging from four months to 29 months. It was also noted that the accrued interest of Rs 5.58 crore accrued on the scheme fund was not accounted for.To get a wholesome view of the matter dna spoke to Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, an Indian sociologist and founder of Sulabh International, who said that for the Prime Minister to achieve 100% sanitation by 2019, he must allocate Rs 3.60 lakh crore. “To build a decent toilet, one needs Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000, anything cheaper will be shoddy and of no use.”Pathak, who has won various accolades on the national and international level including a Padma Bhushan for his work on hygiene and sanitation also states that with proper motivation and will, the government is capable of providing a toilet in every household should they assign at the very minimum one labourer per village who will build at a rate of 20 toilers per month.In it’s conclusion, CAG report number 28 strongly urges the ministry to step up its drive for Information, Education and Communication that will result in a rise in demand for toilets and basic sanitation. It also advises on the need to rope in various corporate houses and tie-up with their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives to spread the word. Effective monitoring and periodic evaluation of the programme which was found missing is now of paramount concern. If India our country must compete with the world, the report finds that it must step up intensify its efforts by realistic planning and implementation, large scale information, behavioral changes in the target population and overall governance at the grassroot level. While the current prime minister does seem active on this front, auditors feel these initiatives though welcome are far to late in coming.

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Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan total failure: CAG