Rural Development Ministry data shows Modi’s village Nagepur in Varanasi is not open defecation-free, scores zero out of three.
New Delhi: As part of his marquee Swachh Bharat initiative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set an ambitious target of ensuring an open defecation-free (ODF) India by October 2019. This could be a bit of a stretch because as it turns out, the PM’s own adopted village — Nagepur in his Varanasi constituency — is yet to be declared ODF.
Nagepur village was adopted by PM Modi in early 2016 as part of the second phase of yet another pet scheme, the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY), under which MPs are to identify and adopt a village in their constituency to turn it into a ‘model village’.
However, according to latest gram panchayat-wise data compiled by the Rural Development Ministry as part of Mission Antyodaya, Nagepur village was not ODF as per the 2011 Census, and isn’t so even as per the 2018 survey.
Of the total score of three (as devised by the ministry), the village has scored a zero. The other two villages adopted by the PM — Jayapur and Kakarahiya — were not ODF as per the 2011 census but have achieved that target now.
Stress on Swachh Bharat Mission
It was in his very first Independence Day speech as PM in 2014 that Modi announced the Swachh Bharat Mission, subsequently launching it in October that year with much fanfare.
Building toilets and making India ODF by October 2019 — Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary — has been a key component of the mission. Since then, the PM has consistently and prominently talked about the drive, highlighting his government’s achievements in this regard.
In June this year, for instance, the PM had said, “Cleanliness is considered to be first necessity for a healthy life. We initiated the campaign to construct toilets at home. This campaign for cleanliness is being taken forward successfully by 125 crore people of the country.”
The Swachh Bharat, ODF and toilet construction movement have seen much glitz, with the government collaborating with several celebrities to spread the message.
Overall, data has so far been compiled for over 4 lakh gram panchayats, of which 60 per cent are ODF. While states such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Sikkim top the list — with more than 88 per cent villages being ODF — others such as Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, Assam, Odisha and Bihar have performed poorly with less than 25 per cent villages being ODF.
However, according to officials in the ministry, of the 4 lakh villages for which data under this category is available, the data for around one fourth is from last year and yet to be updated. The purpose of the extensive exercise of collecting village-wise data is to identify gaps based on the set parameters to ensure targeted development and execution of schemes.