Rural Gujarat is known to have poor malnutrition levels. Malnutrition and sanitation are both interrelated. A new National Sample Survey Organization report has suggested that the state’s performance in providing sanitation to its rural population is not up to the mark. A counterview.org report:
In a major revelation, the new National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) report, “Key Indicators of Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition in India”, released in December 2013, has found that Gujarat’s performance in providing sanitary and hygienic conditions to its rural population is not progressing well enough. In fact, if the data are indication, Gujarat’s performance on this score cannot be said to considered “vibrant” in any sense. The NSSO survey data suggest that Gujarat is an average performer, especially on issues related with sanitation. If the report is to be believed, a whopping 58.7 per cent of the rural households of Gujarat have no access to toilets – which means that majority of the rural population goes into the open for defecation.
If the report is any indicator, as many as 10 out of 20 major states selected for analysis have a lesser percentage of rural households without toilets. These are Kerala (2.8 per cent), Assam (13.7 per cent), Uttarakhand (19.7 per cent), Punjab (22.2 per cent), Haryana (25.4 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (25.7 per cent), West Bengal (39.7 per cent), Jammu & Kashmir (44.3 per cent), Maharashtra (54.0 per cent), and Andhra Pradesh (54.3 per cent). The all-India average of households without toilets is slightly better than Gujarat’s – 59.4 per cent. Lack of toilets, if analysts are to be believed, indicates that manual scavenging is widely prevalent in rural Gujarat, as in other parts of India.
Further, the survey found that 53.9 per cent of the rural households had no bathroom facility attached to the dwelling units, which again is worse suggests poor sanitary conditions in rural areas of the state. Here again, it is worse than as many as nine out of 20 major Indian states. The states with lesser percentage of households with “no bathrooms” within the dwelling units are Kerala (9.7 per cent), Haryana (14.4 per cent), Uttarakhand (20.5 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (31.7 per cent), Jammu & Kashmir (40.5 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (45.4 per cent), Assam (45.6 per cent), and Karnataka (48.1 per cent). The all-India average for no bathroom facility within rural dwelling units is 62.3 per cent.
Another indicator of poor sanitation is, according to the NSSO data, Gujarat is one of the worst performers in providing drainage facilities to its rural households. To quote NSSO, “Proper drainage arrangement meant a system of easy carrying-off waste water and liquid waste of the house without any overflow or seepage. This is an essential requirement for maintaining hygienic condition surrounding the house.” The survey, it added, tried to ascertain whether a household had any drainage system, if a household had some drainage system, whether the drainage system was underground or covered pucca or open pucca or open katcha.”
Data suggest that only 26.1 per cent of the rural households had access to drainage facility, as against the national average of 31.7 per cent of the rural households. The rural areas of the states with better drainage facilities attached to their households are Haryana (81.7 per cent), Punjab (79.3 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (49.5 per cent), Karnataka (43.3 per cent), Maharashtra (43.0 per cent), Uttarakhand (42.5 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (42.2 per cent), Kerala (41.3 per cent), Jammu & Kashmir (34.2 per cent), and Tamil Nadu (29.0 per cent). The all-India average on this score is 31.7 per cent.
The survey also finds that as many as 50.4 per cent of the rural households of Gujarat do not have any access to any garbage disposal facility. This is worse than several “progressive” states, including Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. The NSSO explains, “The two aspects, viz., drainage arrangement and garbage disposal system, are mainly associated with hygiene and cleanliness of the house.” Also associated with this “important aspect” of living condition and facility is “the availability of direct opening to road from the house”, the NSSO suggests, adding, “A household living in a house without any direct opening to the road appears to be deprived of one important facility for trouble-free movement. In this survey it was ascertained whether a household had any ‘direct opening to road/lane/constructed path’.”
Thus, the survey finds that in Gujarat 17.1 per cent of the rural households do not have any direct opening towards roads. While Gujarat scores worse than the all-India average, which is 14.6 per cent rural households having no direct opening to roads, the state is found to be a better perform than only six of the 20 major states of India – Uttar Pradesh (18.7 per cent), Bihar (20.1 per cent), Jharkhand (20.6 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (27.5 per cent), Uttarakhand (27.6 per cent), and Jammu & Kashmir (36.7 per cent).
— Rajiv Shah