Mumbai: Union Rural Development Minister
Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said that the rural areas of the country
would be free of open defecation within a decade.
"All the 2,65,000 gram panchayats in the country will be
open defecation-free in ten years," Ramesh said, speaking at a
He agreed that Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan should be considered
more than just a toilet-building programme. "It highlights the
concerns about privacy, security and dignity of women," he
said, and assured that the campaign would be revamped.
In the past, toilet-building programmes of governments
were half-hearted endeavours, with the exception of
Maharashtra where a third of the gram panchayats are "open
defecation free", Ramesh said.
But now even a state such as Haryana, considered to be
having "a patriarchal" society, had taken up the challenge in
a big way with the slogan "sauchalaya nahi to dulhan nahi" (no
bride if there is no toilet), he said.
Quoting 2011 census data, the Minister said 60 per cent
of village households still do not have access to proper
toilet facilities. He praised the success of Sikkim and
Himachal Pradesh on this front, apart from that of