PATNA: Pledging to construct 1.21 crore toilets over next five years covering all households in Bihar, the state government today vowed to end the practice of defecation in open places by 2019 as a token of tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.
"As many as 40 lakh toilets have been constructed in Bihar under various state and Central schemes and 1.21 crore more toilets will be constructed over next five years to ensure to meet the target of one toilet per household," Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) Minister Mahachandra Prasad Singh informed the state legislative assembly.
Replying to the debate on tardy pace of toilet construction in Bihar initiated by JD(U) MLA Izhar Ahmed, he said the practice of defecation in the open will be brought to an end after construction of 1.61 crore toilets covering each household by 2019 and it will be a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.
Gandhi had spoken about sanitation facilities in households and abhorred the practice of defecation in open places, the PHED minister said, adding that the state government's ambitious target to cover all households with toilets will be a fullsome tribute to the great leader.
Regretting tardy pace of construction of toilets in Bihar, Singh said that it was a matter of concern that we have been left behind even by small states like Sikkim in providing sanitation facilities for the people, including women.
Sikkim and some other states have achieved 100 per cent sanitation facilities for their people, but we have been able to cover only 25 per cent households with such facilities due to a slew of factors, he said.
The PHED Minister spoke for need of construction of adequate number of toilets in towns and urban habitats where the practice of defecation in the open has been widely prevalent and stressed for construction of sanitation infrastructure on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode.
He urged the Centre and railways in particular for support to build toilets in urban areas to stop defecation by the people near railways lines.
Joining in the debate, the Leader of Opposition Nandkishore Yadav slammed the state government for slow pace of toilet construction and assured it of all cooperation so that all households must at least one toilet inside to enable the family members, particularly womenfolk, to meet nature's call in privacy.