PATNA: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that 8.5 lakh toilets were constructed in Bihar in a week, the Bihar government's own records contradict PM Modi's claim.
During the time span mentioned by the Prime Minister, the pictures of 6.6 lakh toilets were uploaded on the government's Management Information System (MIS), a software that stores the pictures and geographical coordinates of a particular construction so as to avoid duplication.
And the number of 6.6 lakh spans three categories --- upgradation of some old toilets, completion of projects that were under way and toilets that were initiated and construction of new toilets.
"In the past one week, over 8.5 lakh toilets have been constructed in Bihar and that is not an easy task to do. The speed and development is not a mean feat," PM Modi had said at the concluding ceremony of Champaran Satyagraha centenary celebrations in Bihar's Motihari on Tuesday.
Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav and Sanjay Nirupam of the Congress had mocked the claim, saying it wasn't practically possible.
Sources in the Bihar government say 8.5 lakh toilets were constructed between March 13 and April 9. And quite a lot of groundwork that went into achieving that number.
Over the past year and a half, nearly 32,000 swachhagrahis or cleanliness ambassadors were inducted and nearly 40,000 masons were trained by the government.
The sanitation coverage in Bihar, in other words the number of households having a toilet, is at 52 per cent, way behind the national average of 80 per cent.
Since 2006, the state government had a scheme called the Lohiya Swachh Yojana, long before the centre announced the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan after the NDA government came to power in 2014. Currently, both the sanitation drives have been merged and being run as Lohiya Swachh Bihar Abhiyan, named after socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia.
Under the scheme, the estimated cost of building a toilet is nearly Rs. 12,000. While the centre funds 60 per cent of the amount, the rest is borne by the state.