New Delhi: The Universal Sanitation Coverage (USG) survey that found 14.62 lakh toilet-less households in Uttar Pradesh was not “published” by the Centre, said Union Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
“No Universal Sanitation Coverage survey has been published by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation,” Shekhawat said on Thursday during the Question Hour in the Lok Sabha. In his written reply to the House, the minister said there are 2.84 crore rural households with access to toilets in UP as on November 22, 2019.
News18 had earlier reported that following the USG survey, conducted between August 15 to 25, 2019, district magistrates from 74 districts of UP, except of Pratapgarh, had submitted reports to the state’s Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural) Director, Bramhadev Ram Tiwari.
According to Tiwari’s letter, now in possession of News18, all the DMs were asked to verify the “worry some” lakhs of toilet-less households in the state found in the USG survey. They were later also asked to brief the Centre’s six-member inspection team, comprising senior officials of the Jal Shakti ministry, on the same.
The inspection team had conducted its field visit on October 18 and 19 to ascertain the number of toilets constructed and execution of ‘Left Out Beneficiaries (LOB)’ process among others, despite the state being declared ‘Open Defecation Free’ in October 2018.
Denial of the USG survey and its estimate of toilet-less households are in direct contradiction to Tiwari’s letter and purpose of the Central team’s visit, which according to a panchayat official, was meant to “test and assess” the mission’s status.
The Jal Shakti Ministry’s Additional Secretary, Arun Baroka, had written to the Yogi Adityanath government about the proposed visit of the inspection team.
While Shekhawat refused to acknowledge the Centre’s initiative to count the missed-out households ensuring “sustainability of ODF status,” he said his ministry had “advised all states/UTs, including Uttar Pradesh, to identify if any rural household has been missed out.”
“Subsequently, many states have undertaken special drives to identify such missed-out households and all the states have been encouraged to provide the necessary support to them to construct toilets,” he added.
Despite the minister’s denial, the Panchayati Raj Ministry of UP had indeed held a survey to “monitor and locally inspect” status of toilets in the state.
News18 had reported on a letter, dated October 16, 2019, written by Panchayati Raj Ministry Secretary Preeti Shukla asking DMs to map the number of women village-heads and their extended families with toilets in their homes and the usage of toilets created under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
On September 24, the department of drinking water and sanitation’s dashboard, which reflects the daily progress of the mission in the country’s rural belt, changed the Indian map’s colour to green. On the basis of the 2012 baseline survey, it claimed that 5,99,963 villages in the country are now open defecation free.