State seeks portable answer to toilets

A.S.R.P. Mukesh

Ranchi, March 10: The drinking water and sanitation department is planning to introduce fabricated toilets for an eco-friendly and portable answer to a problem that has placed Jharkhand in an unenviable position as the worst state in terms of household sanitary status.

A state that has often earned flak for lack of security and stable administration, Jharkhand "achieved" another shocker in the 2011 Census when it topped the states' list with a staggering 92.4 per cent homes lacking toilets.

Odisha and Bihar ranked second and third in the Census findings, with percentages of 85.9 and 82.4 respectively.

The census highlighted the problem was more severe in rural areas, which take up 78 per cent of the overall number of houses without toilets. Meanwhile, 32 per cent of the households without toilets are in urban areas.

According to state water and sanitation department officials, if the fabricated toilet project is implemented properly, it could rid the state off the problem of open defecation and many health issues.

Additional chief secretary Sudhir Prasad, who heads the department, said they zeroed in on the concept after much brainstorming.

He added the project would initially be implemented on a pilot basis in Ranchi and its adjacent areas.

"It will be introduced from the 2013-14 fiscal year itself. It is an innovative, economical and eco-friendly idea," said Prasad, also the principal secretary of the department.

Besides Ranchi, he added, a few more districts might be included in the pilot phase, depending on the quality of models that comes to the department.

"Only today, we have also come up with an expression of interest asking agencies, manufacturers, NGOs, et al to present their fabricated toilet models before us. The last date is March 20," he said.

According to Prasad, the fabricated toilets would be a win-win situation for all.

"It is economical and time-saving. As opposed to constructing toilets, fabricated models are ready to use which save time, money and other hassles. It is suitable for every place, rural or urban," he said.

All toilets will be environment-friendly.

"We are looking for models that are made with eco-friendly items such as fly ash," he stressed.

Prasad also claimed the budget would not be a deterrent.

"Under Nirmal Bharat Yojana, we have Rs 150 crore which is sanctioned by the Centre. This apart, the state budget, too, will have certain funds. But actual estimates can only be known after the models are decided. In any case, the cost will be much less than that of construction," Prasad told The Telegraph.