Over 1.09 crore toilets were built across the country in the first 11 months of 2015-16 but a majority of people in rural areas — 52.1 per cent — did not choose to use them. In urban areas the use of toilets was more prevalent and only 7.5 per cent of the people went for open defecation, according to the latest study by the National Sample Survey Organisation.

While 98.64 lakh toilets were built in rural areas between April 1, 2015 and February 29, 2016, another 10.63 lakh toilets were constructed in urban areas by March 1, said the Swachhta Status Report 2016 that was conducted between May and June 2015 to gauge the progress of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).

Surprisingly, the data indicate that despite the cleanliness mission targeting students by providing toilets in schools, a percentage of children less than 15 years of age chose open defecation. In urban areas, 10.1 per cent of children did not use toilets while in villages, 56.6 per cent of children went for open defecation.

Behavioural change

The data, which indicate the need for a behavioural change and better infrastructure for sanitation, comes just ahead of the NDA government completing two years in office and plans to enlarge the scope of the SBM.

The scheme was launched on October 2, 2014, and the Prime Minister had noted that the lack of toilets in schools also hampers the education of many children, especially girl students.

Significantly, 4.17 lakh toilets were constructed in 2.61 lakh schools under the Swachh Vidyalaya initiative that aimed to provide 100 per cent access to functional toilets across all elementary and secondary schools in the country.

As many as 64 public sector units, including Life Insurance Corporation of India and State Bank of India, and 11 private firms, such as Coca Cola and ITC, took part in building toilets in schools.

The rapid survey also revealed that lack of infrastructure for drainage and disposal of waste. Around 44 per cent of the villages surveyed did not have any drainage arrangement while 63 per cent of wards did not have a liquid waste disposal system for their toilets.

Also, 44 per cent of wards did not have any sewer lines while nearly 36 per cent of the wards did not have a dumping place for solid waste. Nearly 22 per cent of the wards surveyed also did not have any street cleaning arrangement.