Raipur: Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has addressed a letter to prime minister Narendra Modi expressing his concern about a prevailing toilet construction issue in the state. Despite the state having been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) by the previous government, there remains a segment of 15 lakh families devoid of access to improved toilet facilities.
Baghel has urged the prime minister to extend this essential facility to these deprived families. Furthermore, he has proposed an enhancement in the financial assistance provided for the construction of toilet facilities, suggesting an increase from Rs 12,000 to Rs 30,000 per family. He has also requested approval for the construction of toilets in Maoist-affected and remote areas through Gram Panchayats.
In his letter, Baghel referenced the National Family Health Survey 2019-21 (NFHS-5), conducted under the Ministry of Health, Government of India. The survey findings reveal that 88.2 per cent of families in urban areas of Chhattisgarh and 73.5 per cent in rural areas have availed themselves of improved toilet facilities. This indicates that 76.8 per cent of total families in the state are utilizing upgraded toilet facilities, while 23.2 per cent are still deprived of this fundamental amenity. Notably, the physical inspection of toilets during the recent socio-economic survey conducted by the state government aligns with the data released by the National Family Health Survey-5.
In the letter, Baghel elaborated that under the previous government’s tenure, over 32 lakh toilets were constructed in the state, and in January 2018, the entire state was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). An expenditure exceeding Rs 4,000 crore was allocated for these toilet constructions. Despite this substantial investment, the current concern and subject of investigation lies in the fact that around 15 lakh families in the state are currently devoid of access to improved toilet facilities.
Chief minister has urged the prime minister that the Administrative Department of the Government of India should initiate an independent third-party investigation into the situation. Taking into account the geographical and demographic specifics of the state, he has urged to approve the funds increasing in the amount per family, for the construction of improved toilets, from Rs 12,000 to Rs 30,000 for families lacking proper toilet facilities. Besides, he has sought approval for the construction of toilets in areas affected by extremism and remote regions through Gram Panchayats.