A toilet for a toilet

A strong criticism of the irrational expenditure of Rs 35 lakhs on the renovation of Planning Commission toilets has been a blessing in disguise and done wonders for sanitation problem in India. A whole lot of progressive announcements in the sanitation sector have been made as a saving grace for the government, which was unable to justify the unnecessary spending on beautification of Planning Commission toilets while crying hoarse of austerity measures.

What people of India will get now as compensation is Rs 10,000 for construction of a toilet. So far, this money was a mere Rs 4,600 and had certain criteria of below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL). The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, whilst announcing the financial aid of Rs 10,000 for a toilet, scrapped the distinction of BPL and APL families. The grant for the toilet construction is to be given across the board to any Indian citizen for construction of toilets. The decision to increase the financial grant for toilet construction came after states like Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh requested an increased grant to meet the targets.

The decision was taken to fill the target of total sanitation in next ten years, informed Union Rural development Minister Jairam Ramesh who is also handling the Ministry of Drinking water and Sanitation. Making this announcement, the Indian government has also changed the name of Total Sanitation Campaign, which would now be known as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign).

Under the new financial grant for toilets the Central government will shell out Rs 3,200, States will give Rs 1,400 and the beneficiary’s share would be Rs 900. Besides, Rs 4,500 will be added through MGNREGA scheme. Earlier the share of Central government was Rs 2,100, the State’s share was Rs 1,000, and the beneficiary gave Rs 300, while the allocation under MNRGEA was Rs1200. The Ministry has also increased the budget allocation for 12thFive Year Plan to Rs 36,000 crore. The allocations were Rs 7,800 crore in the last plan.

The Cabinet has also made toilet construction mandatory for availing funds under Indira Aawas Yojana from now on. To ensure its implementation the government has also increased allocation for Indira Awas Yojna from existing Rs 45,000 to Rs 75,000 by the end of July.

Alka Pande
(The author is a senior journalist)