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40% of toilets surveyed by CAG in government schools non-existent, unused

File image for representation purpose only.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

Public sector units claimed to have constructed 1.4 lakh toilets in government schools as part of a Right to Education project, but almost 40% of those surveyed by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) were found to be non-existent, partially constructed, or unused. In an audit report presented in Parliament on Wednesday, the CAG said over 70% did not have running water facilities in the toilets, while 75% were not being maintained hygienically.

The Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in September 2014 to meet the Right to Education Act’s mandate that all schools must have separate toilets for boys and girls. Lack of dedicated funds, poor maintenance and poor water availability in toilets were identified as major challenges, and central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) were roped in to bridge the gap over a one year period.

Physical survey

There are 10.8 lakh government schools in the country. Overall, more than 1.4 lakh toilets were built by 53 CPSEs, with significant support coming from power, coal and oil companies. The CAG audit conducted a physical survey of a sample of 2,695 toilets built by these companies in 15 States.

Out of that sample, CPSEs identified but did not construct 83. Another 200 toilets were reported to be constructed, but were non-existent, while 86 toilets were only partially constructed. Another 691 toilets “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, etc,” said the audit report. Thus, almost 40% of toilets were non-existent, partially completed or unused.

No functional toilets

Out of the 1,967 coeducational schools surveyed, 99 schools had no functional toilets while 436 had only one functional toilet, meaning that the objective of providing separate toilets for boys and girls was not fulfilled in 27% of the schools, said the CAG.

In order to effectively change the behaviour of students, the project norms required the CPSEs to build toilets with running water and hand washing facilities, and to maintain the toilets for three to five years while charging the annual expenses to their CSR budgets.

However, the survey found that 72% of constructed toilets had no running water facilities inside, while 55% had no hand washing facilities at all. The audit also noticed “cases of defective construction of toilets, non-provision of foundation/ramp/staircase and damaged/overflowed leach pit, which led to ineffective use of toilets,” said the report.

With regard to maintenance and sanitation, 75% of toilets did not follow the norm for daily cleaning at least once a day. The survey found that 715 toilets were not being cleaned at all, while 1,097 were being cleaned with a frequency of twice a week to once a month. “Cases of non-provision of soap, bucket, cleaning agents and disinfectants in toilets and inadequate cleanliness of pathway were also noticed,” said the report.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 1:09:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/40-of-toilets-surveyed-by-cag-in-govt-schools-non-existent-unused/article32680816.ece

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