Need 10 yrs to achieve total sanitation: Ramesh

New Delhi: The Government today said it will take 10 years to achieve total sanitation in the country.

"It will take 10 years to make all gram panchayats…Nirmal Gram Panchayats…," Drinking Water and Sanitation Jairam Ramesh said in the Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour. He said it took about a year to make village panchayat a Nirmal Gram Panchayat where there is no open air defecation.

There are about 2.60 lakh gram panchayats in the country and as per the latest population Census data, only about 28,000 of them have achieved total sanitation. Replying to supplementary questions, the minister said while data provided by state governments show sanitation coverage is 68 per cent in the country, the Census puts the figure at only about 33 per cent.

There is a huge difference between the data provided by the state governments and Census, Ramesh said adding, "I tend to believe Census numbers…We have to go a long way before we achieve total sanitation." He said the aim of the government is to make India an open air defecation free country in the next 10 years.

He said Sikkim has become the first Nirmal state achieving full sanitation coverage and Himachal Pradesh would soon get the distinction. Ramesh said that from next year, the amount of assistance for construction of a toilet would be increased to Rs 7,000 – 7,500.

Presently, the assistance from Central government for construction of a toilet is Rs 2,200, while state governments provide another Rs 1,000.

The Central government administers Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) to facilitate states to ensure sanitation facilities in rural areas with the aim of eradicating the practice of open defecation and ensuring clean environment. TCS, at present, is being implemented in 607 rural districts not having sanitation facilities.