No running water in 72% of school toilets built by 7 CPSEs: CAG report

About 1.3 lakh toilets were constructed through seven CPSEs—NTPC, PGCIL, NHPC, PFC, REC, ONGC and CIL—at a cost of Rs 2162.6 crore.

A CAG audit survey of toilets built for schools by seven Central Public Sector Enterprises has revealed that 30 per cent of them were not in use, 72 per cent did not have running water, 55 per cent did not have hand washing facilities, and 30 per cent had no soap or disinfectants. The report was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

The survey, conducted in 2019 and sent to the Union government on January 2, 2020, assumes significance at a time when schools are inching towards reopening amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with hand washing being a big part of preventive medical advice against the spread of the infection.

The report states that the Prime Minister announced on August 15, 2014, that all schools “should have separate toilets for boys and girls within a year and called upon the corporate sector to give priority to this national endeavour as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.”

“To achieve the objective of separate toilets for boys and girls within a year, Ministry of Human Resources Development launched (September 1, 2014) Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan and sought cooperation of other ministries to impress upon the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) under their administrative control to participate in the project for construction of toilets in government schools. 53 CPSEs participated in this project and constructed 1,40,997 toilets as per MHRD,” the report states.

About 1.3 lakh toilets were constructed through seven CPSEs—NTPC, PGCIL, NHPC, PFC, REC, ONGC and CIL—at a cost of Rs 2162.6 crore. The audit focused on these toilets and “conducted physical survey of a sample of 2,695 toilets across 2,048 schools in 15 States”.

The report found that of the 2,612 toilets reported by CPSEs to have been constructed, 200 toilets were not found constructed and 86 toilets were found to be partially constructed, totalling 11 per cent. “Out of 1,967 coeducational schools surveyed by Audit, 99 had no functional toilets while 436 had only one functional toilet. The objective of providing separate toilets for boys and girls was not fulfilled in these 535 cases (27 per cent).”

The report also found that of the 2,326 constructed toilets, 30 per cent (691) were found not in use “mainly due to lack of running water, lack of cleaning arrangements, damages to the toilets and other reasons like use of toilets for other purposes, toilets locked up”. As per SVA, toilets were to be provided with running water, hand washing facilities and regular maintenance.

Of the 1,119 toilets by Coal India Limited in the audit, 14 per cent were found unbuilt or partially constructed in Odisha, MP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, while 17 per cent of the 564 toilets built by NTPC were either non-existent or partially constructed in Bihar, West Bengal, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.

The audit report graded toilets from 5 star to 1 star based on metrics set by the MHRD. Five star rating was given to 29 per cent of toilets built by Power Finance Corporation and 19 per cent of ONGC toilets—with these two being the best performers. Sixty per cent of toilets by PGCIL and 45 per cent by REC were given the lowest 1 star rating.

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