Toilets: India

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Households without toilets in India, 2001-11. Source: The Times of India

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


Access to toilets, state-wise

2014-18: The best and worst states

Access to toilets, state-wise, The best and worst states, 2014-18
From: August 25, 2018: The Times of India

See graphic:

Access to toilets, state-wise, The best and worst states, 2014-18

2017: The best and worst states

Dipak Dash, 90% of villagers have access to toilets, August 9, 2017: The Times of India

Use Of Toilets In 5 States 100%: Rural Survey

More than nine out of every 10 households having access to toilets use them in rural areas and little over 62% of rural homes have individual toilets, according to a government-sponsored survey . The usage of toilets is 100% in five states including Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.

The sample survey conducted by Quality Council of India (QCI) covering 4,626 villages and 1.4 lakh house holds between May and June this year has decimated the myth that people don't use toilets after building them.“Such high usage of toilets shows how there is huge change in people's behaviour. Usage of toilets also mean people are maintaining them,“ said drinking water and sanitation secretary Parameswaran Iyer.

Toilet usage is minimum at 65% in Jharkhand.

Launching the report drinking water and sanitation minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the toilet coverage has increased to 66.3% from only 38.7% in October 2014 when Swachh Bharat Mission was launched. He added government would achieve the target of making the entire country open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019.

The survey shows how the government needs to fix the problem in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand, which have more than 50% share of households that still do not have toilets.

Households without Latrines: India

2014/ 53% of households don't have latrines

Stats affirm PM's stress on toilets


The Times of India Aug 16 2014

53% Of All Indian Households Do Not Have Latrines, Figure 69% In Villages

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed out how women often have to wait for the cover of darkness to go out to defecate or urinate because they don't have toilets at home. He also pointed out that the absence of separate toilets for girls was one of the factors behind their dropping out of school. So exactly how bad is the situation on the ground? The Times of India checked out the official numbers and they paint a grim picture.

Data from census 2011 shows that over 53% of all Indian households do not have a latrine within their premises.

In the rural areas, this figure is as high as 69.3%, that is more than two-thirds, and even in urban areas it is a substantial 18.6% or nearly one in every five.

These all-India figures do not quite reveal the full hor ror. There are states where the situation in much worse. Of the nine states in which over half the households don't have a latrine at home, there are four -Jharkhand (78%), Odisha (78%), Bihar (76.9%) and Chhattisgarh (75.4%) -in which three-quarters or more of homes have no latrines. But it isn't just these `backward' states where the picture is so grim. Even in Tamil Nadu (51.7%) and Andhra Pradesh (50.4%) a majority of homes lack latrines.

The figure for the PM's own home state, Gujarat, is only a little better at 42.7%.

In the rural areas, there are nine states in which over three-fourths of homes do not have a latrine. While these, not surprisingly include some of the states mentioned earlier, what might come as a shock is that in Tamil Nadu 76.8% of homes do not have latrines on the premises. In Gujarat, that's true of 67% or over twothirds of homes.

The situation in terms of schools having separate toi lets for girls is distinctly better, with the latest data from the District Information System for Education (DISE) showing that in 2013-14, only 8.4% of all schools did not have functional ones. However, here too some states are quite worse off. All told, there are 12 states in which 10% or more of schools do not have functional girls' toilets. These include small north-eastern states but they also have among them big states like Andhra Pradesh (28.3% with no functional girls' toilet), Odisha (24.8%), Bihar (17.5%) and West Bengal (15.2%).

India vis-à-vis other countries

2000-17: India makes progress

Top 10 countries for reduction in population practising open defecation (percentage point), 2000-17.
From: June 20, 2019: The Times of India

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Top 10 countries for reduction in population practising open defecation (percentage point), 2000-17.

Open defecation free villages


Progress of toilet construction in rural areas, 2014-18
From: Dipak Dash, January 22, 2018: The Times of India

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Progress of toilet construction in rural areas, 2014-18


Open defecation free villages across India, 2015-19, year-wise; Lowest ODF coverage, state-wise
From: August 3, 2019: The Hindu

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Open defecation free villages across India, 2015-19, year-wise; Lowest ODF coverage, state-wise


Dipak Dash, 2L villages declared open-defecation free, May 28, 2017: The Times of India

Over two lakh villages have become open defecation free, the drinking water and sanitation minister said on Friday . While for rural areas the next challenge is to deal with the liquid waste generated, the situation across cities and towns seems to be getting worse as urban areas struggle to manage their daily municipal waste and open urination.

Apathy of municipal authorities, safai karamcharis shirking their responsibilities and inadequate facilities to process solid waste remain big challenges for this flagship programme. An online survey by LocalCircles recently showed that 57% of respondents said their cities haven't become cleaner due to Swachh Bharat. But a year back only 35% had come up with the same response, clearly indicating the cleanliness drive is losing steam in urban areas.

Despite the government taking several initiatives including annual cleanliness surveys and social media campaigns focusing on behaviour change there has been no significant improvement on the ground. One of the main reasons is the slow progress in setting up of plants to process solid waste. Currently, about 80% of the total 1.7 lakh tonnes of waste generated daily is dumped without processing. Delhi and Mumbai contribute almost 10% of country's total municipal waste generated daily and this is one of the reasons why the two big cities look filthy .

“When big cities don't have facilities, one can imagine what is the condition of small towns, which have no funds,“ said a government official.

An urban development ministry official said the solution to the crisis lies in pushing for greater use of compost made from city waste for farming. At present, only two lakh tonnes of compost is sold annually and existing plants with combined 15 lakh tonnes installed capacity are underutilised. Given the challenges, the Centre and state governments, continue to strive to improve the situation. The number of cities and towns declared open defecation free increased from just 58 in April 2016 to 702. Similarly , 32 lakh individual toilets have been built in comparison to only 13 lakh till April 2016.

2018: ¼ rural households had no access to toilet/ NSS

Dipak Dash, Nov 26, 2019: The Times of India

A controversy broke out over the latest National Sample Survey (NSS) data claiming that more than one-fourth rural households had no access to toilet during the July-December period of 2018, barely 10 months before all villages in India were declared open defecation free (ODF), prompting the sanitation department to raise doubts about the methodology of the NSS.

The NSS report contradicted the results of the annual sanitation survey carried out by the government for 2018-19, which had found that 93.1% rural households had access to toilets between November 2018 and February 2019.

The sample size of the sanitation survey was bigger.

On Monday, the sanitation department and the statistics and programme implementation ministry, responsible for the NSS, issued a joint statement saying it was “inappropriate” to use the results of the NSS report to draw conclusions about the sanitation status in India due to some limitations in the survey.

‘Bias behind under-reporting of sanitation coverage’

Both the surveys, though, had similar findings that over 96% of the rural households who have access to a toilet use it regularly. An official statement said the NSS report itself had acknowledged respondent bias when asked “a leading question on whether they have ever received benefits from the government, not admitting that they have toilets or LPG cylinders in the hope of receiving additional benefits from government.”

It said this bias may have led to significant under reporting of sanitation coverage and such biases are often observed in households when canvassing information on items and issues where government funded beneficiary schemes are under implementation.

“It’s a very peculiar situation as we have two survey findings of 2018 and both studies were done by the government and by credible entities. The National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NAR S S) was conducted by an independent verification agency (IVA) under the World Bank support project. So, which one do you believe?,” asked a government official who has been involved in the Swachh Bharat Mission.

While the survey findings suggested that 71.3% had access to toilet during the survey period, the data on the Swachh Bharat dashboard of the sanitation department registered nearly 95% toilet coverage. The dashboard data is updated based on the details that the agencies upload on the system.

The joint statement by the two departments tried to pinpoint reasons behind such discrepancy. It said the NSS report itself had issued a disclaimer.

“In the NSS 76th round, information on ‘benefits received by the household from the government schemes for drinking water, sanitation, housing, electrification and LPG connection facilities’ was collected for the first time, prior to asking them about having access to these facilities…there may be an inherent tendency of the respondent to give a negative reply on the presumption or expectation that a negative reply on benefits received and access to facilities, may help them to get additional benefits through government schemes…These points are to be kept in mind while interpreting the results on the benefits received from different government schemes and access to the said facilities.”

Toilets on Highways

A fundamental right: HP HC

Dhananjay Mahapatra, HC: Highway toilets a fundamental right, June 17, 2017: The Times of India

The Himachal Pradesh high court has ruled that public convenience facilities along highways are a fundamental right of passengers and tourists.

“Shockingly , there are no public conveniences available on these highways, as a result of which public travelling day in and day out on such roads are compelled to urinatedefecate in open, causing damage to the ecology as well as causing pollution,“ a high court bench of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma said.

Terming the act of easing oneself in the open undignified, the bench said for cing people to defecate or urinate in public due to absence of public conveniences was akin to violating their dignity, which was intrinsic to right to life. Terming the act of eas ing oneself in the open as undignified, the bench said forcing people to defecate or urinate in public due to absence of public conveniences was akin to violating their dignity , which was intrinsic to right to life.

“Citizens travelling on statenational highways need to be protected from open defecation, untreated disposal of waste into streams and contamination of water supplies, which could become a big problem with heavy tourist influx coupled with lack of proper civic amenities in the state,“ it said and mentioned the signs of various sanitationlinked diseases raising their ugly head in the state.

HP became the second state to get `open defecation free' status. But the statistics provided by amicus curiae Deven Khanna was startling: “ Approximately 10 million toilets were constructed between 2006-07 and 2010-11 across the country under Total Sanitation Campaign, but unfortunately, toilets remain largely defunct and are reportedly being used as storerooms.“

Toilets at petrol pumps

Municipalities not authorised to force toilets at petrol pumps to open for public: HC

HC raps BMC on toilets at petrol pumps, March 8, 2018: The Times of India

The Bombay high court directed the BMC to remove from the premises of 12 petrol pumps signboards declaring their toilets available for the general public under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

A bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Riyaz Chagla heard a petition challenging BMC’s December 22, 2017, notice to retail outlets to make available toilets for use by general public free of cost and to put up signboards. “It appears guidelines published by Swachh Bharat Mission do not authorise the municipal corporation to declare that toilets available at petrol pumps are available for public. Such act is prima facie illegal,” said the bench.

The interim order came on a petition by Petrol Owners’ Association and 12 petrol pumps in Masjid Bunder, Andheri, Bandra and Matunga. The bench said relief was only for 12 pumps.

Toilets in rural areas

Use of twin-leach pits

2019/ Only 26% of rural toilets use twin-leach pits

Varun B. Krishnan, Priscilla Jebaraj, March 17, 2019: The Hindu

Under the twin-pit system, two pits are dug with honeycombed walls and earthen floors which allow liquid to percolate into the surrounding soil

Waste disposal from other toilets could turn into health and environmental nightmare

Over 2018, a government advertisement featuring film actors Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar has been preaching the benefits of the “do gadde” or twin-pit latrines, which would create valuable farm manure from human excreta. “Shauchalaya ka ashirvad,” proclaims Mr. Kumar in the advertisement produced by the Centre’s flagship sanitation scheme Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

In March 2019, with the scheme claiming to be on the verge of completing toilet construction for all rural households, a government-commissioned survey shows that just over a quarter of rural toilets use this twin-pit system. The waste from the remainder of rural toilets could create a new sanitation nightmare — harmful to health and the environment, and even pushing a new generation into manual scavenging.

Under the twin-pit system, two pits are dug with honeycombed walls and earthen floors which allow liquid to percolate into the surrounding soil. When one pit is filled and closed off, waste flow is transferred to the second pit, allowing waste in the first pit to be converted into manure after a year or two. The Hindu’s analysis of raw data from the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey 2018-19, shows that just 26.6% of rural households use the recommended twin-pit system to dispose of excreta from their toilets. Septic tanks are the most popular option, with 28% of toilets connected to a septic tank with a soak pit and 6% to a tank without a soak pit.

The twin pit has been promoted by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation as well as the World Health Organisation as an in-situ sanitation system which claims to bypass thorny issues such as caste purity, as owners will be dealing with manure, not excreta.

With the government intensively promoting twin pits over the last two years, it is unsurprising that the highest ratio of twin pits are found in States which have only recently completed toilet construction.

Jharkhand, which is second on the list, with almost 58% of its toilets connected to twin pits, was declared open defecation free (ODF) only late last year. “Our focus was on quality construction and twin-pit technology,” said State sanitation secretary Aradhana Patnaik, explaining why a delayed ODF status had resulted in better system.

Uttar Pradesh, which tops the list with 64% of toilets with twin pits, had made the technology mandatory for anyone who wanted to avail the government’s ₹12,000 subsidy to build toilets.

A 2018 survey of 30 cities and towns in Uttar Pradesh by the Centre for Science and Environment found that 87% of toilet waste is dumped into water bodies and farm lands.

An on-site sanitation system such as a septic tank has to be emptied and cleaned out every two or three years. “Who will actually do the work, in our social context? The government is looking at technology and entrepreneurship solutions for these second order problems, but manpower is a key issue as well,” said Mr. Madhavan. The same Dalit communities which have traditionally been forced into manual scavenging are likely to end up in sanitation work to clean these tanks and any newly built rural sewerage systems.

Toilets in schools

Abysmal student-toilet ratio in schools

Shreya Roychowdhury The Times of India Oct 23 2014

Number of toilets in schools, state-wise; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

DoE Survey Finds Dearth Of Girls’ Toilets In 156 Schools, Boys’ Facilities In 64 Institutions

The Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya at Pooth Kalan, northwest Delhi, has one toilet seat for every 1,669 girls enrolled and Government Girls’ Senior Secondary, Burari, has one for every 944.

The Urdu-medium SKV at Jafrabad, Zeenat Mahal, has one boys’ toilet (or urinal) for every 615 boys. The Directo rate of Education has been taking stock of the loo situation in the schools under it and has drawn up a list of schools where the ratio of students to toilets is over 140—there is a shortage of boys’ toilets in 64 schools and girls’ in 156.

“We have been looking at the number of toilets needed and whether the schools have space for new ones,” says Padmini Singla, director, education. The survey was prompted by offers to build and maintain toilets from private corporations brought on board by the ministry of human resource development for its newly launched Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan.

“A few of them approached us apart from the Confederation of Indian Industry. We’ll have to first find out if there’s space available for toilet blocks.” Singla adds that the department, while generally aiming for a toilet per 100 students, considered 140 as the maximum ratio for the purposes of the survey.

Data collated from the District Information System for Education (DISE) shows that Delhi is one of four states union territories to have toilets in all schools, but the number of toilets per school is woefully low; going by the department's own records, enrolment has been increas ing by a lakh every year. The student-toilet ratio exceeds 200 in 29 boys' and 100 girls' schools. “The toilets are nowhere near the number you actually need. With so many kids using a single toilet, they are almost never clean,“ says Saurabh Sharma, foundermember of a Delhi education NGO, JOSH, which also studies government schools' levels of compliance with the Right to Education Act.

Encouraged by the Prime Minister's emphasis on toilets in his Independence Day speech, JOSH got about 2,500 kids and parents, all from the Trilokpuri area of east Delhi, to sign an appeal to the PM for their school loos to be cleaned up; copies were forwarded to MHRD, the local MP and DOE. “The toilets were cleaned and bins and tissue paper appeared. The MP, Ma heish Girri, had even asked for photographs of cleaned toilets. But this can't be a onetime exercise,“ says Sharma, “There are still girls who drop out because school toilets aren't functional.“

“Availability of toilets is still an issue across the country and affects girls' participation. There are still over two lakh schools without one,“ observes R Govinda, vice-chancellor, National University for Educational Planning and Administration. But, he doesn't believe total dependence on companies' CSR funds is the answer.“The government will also have to gear up and invest,“ he explains, “The programme has helped raise awareness and with the cooperation of corporations, hopefully some norms will be established.

Toilet habits:India


Rural population still defecates in the open

Despite the government's much-publicised campaign, a little over half of the country's rural population still defecates in the open. This is largely because the country's most populous states like Bihar, UP, MP and erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, with their lack of toilets at home, bring the national average down

The percentage of population with toilets at home in the 10 best and 8 worst states, presumably in 2015-16
The Times of India

India has most urban dwellers sans safe toilets

Dipak Dash `India has most urban dwellers sans safe toilets', Nov 18 2016 : The Times of India

Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and other ‘developing’ countries in which urban dwellers do not have private toilets and/ or defecate in the open

India has the dubious distinction of having the maximum number of urban dwellers without safe and private toilets, according to the latest report by an international charity . India also has the most urban-dwellers practising open defecation among all countries, the report says.

According to the report titled `Overflowing Cities' by WaterAid, it is estimated that almost one-fifth of all urbanites -over 700 million people -live without a decent toilet worldwide. “To put that into context, the queue for people waiting for toilets in our cities and towns would stretch around the world 29 times,“ the report says. The report mentions that without access to any system for removing human waste, almost 100 million urbandwellers have little option but to practice open defecation.The remaining 600 million people rely on toilets that do not fulfil minimum requirements of hygiene, safety or privacy.

The list of top 10 countries where huge number of urban dwellers are deprived of safe and private toilets include three other neighbours -China, Bangladesh and Pakistan.The latest data of urban development ministry suggests the total number of individual toilets built till now stands at 26,64,540, which is only 40% of the target set to be achieved by October 2019.

So far as construction of community toilets is concerned, 81,014 have been constructed and that's only 32% of the target. The worst progress is in the case of building of public toilets. Till now barely 23,788 such toilets have been built in urban areas, which is 9% of the government target.

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