Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have declared India open defecation-free last year, but 5 lakh rural households in Karnataka still do not have toilets, according to state government officials.
Officials, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint that there are an estimated 75 lakh households in rural Karnataka, of which 5 lakh are still without toilets.
The officials said they conducted a survey, which found that 50 lakh homes got toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission, while construction of toilets is under construction in 20 lakh homes, but 5 lakh houses are still deprived of the facility.
K.S. Eshwarappa, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister in the B.S. Yediyurappa government, agreed to this. Speaking to ThePrint, he said one of the biggest hurdles their officers have faced in constructing toilets was houses built next to each other in extremely tight spaces, making it nearly impossible to construct toilets there.
“There is no space to build a toilet within such houses and so the officers are forced to think of other measures to help them with alternate sanitation methods,” he said.
Several of such households that are not yet covered under the Swachh Bharat Mission are located in northern Karnataka districts such as Raichur, Bidar, Yadgir and Kalburgi.
“We have spoken to several stakeholders, NGOs and local social workers on this issue. They have suggested that community toilets could be the only solution to resolve this problem. Many of them are so densely populated that we may need to build a series of them (community toilets),” he told ThePrint.
The minister also said they are starting a drive where they will be sensitising people about the need to maintain cleanliness in toilets, especially the community ones”.
“Several volunteers will explain the need to keep the surroundings clean, especially during the pandemic or it will add to the spread of the virus,” Eshwarappa added.