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Congress taunts BJP after World Bank withdraws paper flagging decline over toilet usage

New Delhi, Dec 1, 2023
Congress on Friday taunted the government over the success of Swachh Bharat Mission saying that the World Bank has to withdraw its paper that flagged decline in the use of toilets in rural India between 2018 and 2021.

The Congress asked the government that instead of suppressing data and declaring victory over open defecation, an open and transparent audit of toilet usage and sanitation in India, along with reversing budget cuts.

In a post on X, Congress General Secretary (Communication) Jairam Ramesh said, “The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan launched in September 2011 got repackaged and rebranded as Swachh Bharat Mission.

The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan had launched massive programmes to make every gram panchayat Open Defecation Free. It had started popularising the use of bio toilets in trains. Swachhata Doots like Vidya Balan were mobilised. Innovative slogans were popularised and concurrent evaluation by independent agencies was encouraged.”

The Congress leader said that now, a report from the World Bank shows that the repackaged Swachh Bharat Mission, launched after so much hype, has not been sustained.

“Usage of toilets has been declining in India since 2018, with the decline is most concentrated among SC and ST communities. After the initial fanfare, the Prime Minister has moved onto other schemes, headlines and events.

Staff for sanitation has been reduced and payments have been delayed. Indeed, far from tall claims about making India free from open defecation, over 25 per cent of rural households still do not regularly use a toilet,” he said.

Referring to a news report, which highlighted the report, the Congress Rajya Sabha MP said: “Expectedly, a news report said that the World Bank faced ‘a lot of heat’ from the Modi government, and had to withdraw these papers.”

“Instead of suppressing data and declaring victory over open defecation, what is needed is an open and transparent audit of toilet usage and sanitation in India, along with reversing budget cuts.

This is even more important at a time when India has been backsliding on many important health indicators since 2014 with sharp increases especially in anaemia and child malnutrition,” he demanded.

The Congress leader also attached a news report to back his claims.

The Congress has been critical of the government over the renaming of several of the schemes of its government by the BJP-led NDA government, including the National Food Security Act (NFSA), Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan among many others and had also slammed it for reducing the budget of many popular schemes.(Agency)

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