New Delhi: Triggering behaviour change among people regarding use of toilets will be the top priority for the government while implementing sanitation programmes across the country, especially in rural areas.
The government's decision comes in the wake of recent comments by Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation Nitin Gadkari that a huge number of toilets constructed in some rural households have been converted into temples and godowns.
A top official in the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation said the strategy of implementation of sanitation programme will focus on behaviour change of the population with regard to toilet construction and their use.
The ministry has sent an instruction to the state governments in this regard.
"Triggering of communities for behaviour change and usage of toilets shall be given top priority to ensure increased demand, which will lead to use of assets created," the Centre's communication to the states said.
It also said that effective use of technology and media should be done to communicate the message of the benefits of safe sanitation and hygiene.
Gadkari had recently said that mere construction of toilets will not be enough to achieve the government's goal of a clean India by 2019 -- the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the 'Swachh Bharat' campaign on October 2 at a function near India Gate and pledged to make India clean.
Last month, Gadkari had lamented that out of three lakh toilets constructed to end the menace of open defecation, only 10,000 were being used while the rest had been converted into godowns.
"I was surprised that at some places temples were constructed using the toilet building structure because there is no water. That is why I said that there is no point constructing toilets without water," he had said.