Bihar has not utilised sanitation funds: CAG report

July 21st, 2011 - 1:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, July 21 (IANS) The Bihar government has failed to utilise the huge funds allocated for the total sanitation programme, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed in its latest report.

About Rs.5.5 crore advanced for construction of toilets in schools were lying underutilised since February 2006, according to a CAG report for the financial year ended March 31, 2010.

The report said projects worth Rs.1,976 crore were approved under the sanitation programme, of the allocation only 20-54 percent was spent between 2005 and 2010.

The report was tabled Wednesday in the state assembly by Deputy Chief Minister S.K. Modi, who also holds additional portfolio of finance.

The union government records show Bihar is the worst performer in the national total sanitation campaign. Of those without access to sanitation in India, one in six lives in Bihar.

London-based international NGO WaterAid, after a study last year, estimated that Bihar needs to build 85 million toilets to make the state free of the menace of open defecation.

WaterAid in partnership with the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), has tied up with Unicef, the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Programme and Britain’s Department for International Development for a project to free Bihar of open defecation by 2012.

Experts have established that defecation in the open is a major source of infectious diseases.

According to Bihar’s public health enginering department data, more than 81 lakh (over 8 million) families, mostly from the below poverty line (BPL) category in rural areas, have no toilet facilities.

PHED officials said their department aims at providing toilet facilities to over 10 million families in the state but till now only about three million households have been covered.

The department aimed to construct 2,362 community toilets but only 650 have been constructed so far, they added.

In 1999, the central government launched the total sanitation campaign that ensures sanitation facilities in rural areas to eradicate open defecation. But Bihar is among the states lagging behind.

A central government record shows that 72.58 percent rural households in Bihar were without basic sanitation.

Last year, Oliver Cumming, a senior policy analyst with WaterAid, was in Bihar with a challenging public health mission to make the state free of open defecation in two years.

Criss-crossing the state, Cumming observed that an estimated 85 million toilets need to be built to free the state of open defecation.

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