Health minister’s constituency faring worst in providing toilets (Nov 19 is World Toilet Day)

New Delhi, Nov 19 ( Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s constituency in Jammu will reach 100 percent sanitation and toilet coverage by the year 2266 – taking the longest time amongst all other constituencies, according to a report on the occasion of World Toilet Day Thursday.

The government has been running the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) since 1999-2000 and has set a deadline of March 31, 2012 for making toilets available in rural areas and have a 100 percent sanitation coverage.

However a study by WaterAid India, a UK based charity, of the constituencies of Indian leaders revealed that the target will not be reached by many of them.

“Only nine of the 33 cabinet ministers’ constituencies will meet the target by 2012. Six ministers’ will meet the target beyond 2030,” said Binu Nair, programme officer of WaterAid India.

“C.P. Joshi, the rural development minister, will have his constituency fully toilet-covered by 2023 despite rural sanitation coming under his ministry,” he added.

However, the worst performer is the Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

“Jammu district will achieve the target in 2266. With the current growth rate for total sanitation coverage in the district, only 28.97 percent target will be achieved up to March 2012,” Nair said.

Amongst the good performers on the subject, the constituencies of Defence Minister A.K. Antony, New & Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah, Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, Communications Minister A. Raja and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi will achieve the target this year – three years before the official deadline.

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli will meet the target within the stipulated time period of 2012. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi constituency will reach the target three years after the time set, in 2015, the report added.

Globally, 1.2 billion people defecate in the open with two-thirds of them – 778 million – in South Asia. Out of this, 665 million people defecate in the open in India.

“Not having a toilet or safe disposal of human wastes means a morbid life. Around 1.5 million children die of diarrhoea every year in India. Due to this, 73 million working days are lost to waterborne diseases each year,” Nair said.

“The resulting economic burden is estimated at 600 million dollars. India spends around 460 million dollars a year on safe drinking water and sanitation. We cannot afford this imbalance,” he added.