'Hera-pheri' in total sanitation programme: Jairam Ramesh

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) Funds were being misappropriated in the total sanitation programme, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday said.

Replying to supplementaries in the Rajya Sabha, Ramesh said the figures provided by states showed 60 percent people do not defecate in the open any more, while the census pegs it at around 30 percent.

"There is huge difference in figures reported by state governments and report by the census on reduction in open defecation. Money has been taken but toilets have not been built. There is a lot of 'hera-pheri', if I can use that term," Ramesh said.

The minister added that presently nearly 67 percent of India's population defecate in the open.

The minister agreed that progress had been slow and added that the aim of making India open defecation-free could be reached before 2022, primarily due to the slow progress in northern and eastern states.

"In the northern and eastern states, there is a huge backlog," Ramesh said.

He also added that the allocation for building toilets under the total sanitation campaign has been increased to Rs.10,000 each from the earlier Rs.3,500.