New Delhi: In a village of 1,200 people not having toilets, each inhabitant has to indirectly consume through contaminated food about three grams of each other's faecal matter every day, says a government report.
The 'Elementary Book on Sanitation in Gram Panchayats' brought out by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj warns that food and beverages available in such villages are contaminated with at least one per cent of excreta.
The government, which launched an ambitious campaign to provide toilets for all in five years, says around 65 per cent of rural people practice open defecation in the country, resulting in exposure of human excreta to environment.
"It is estimated that, on an average, a village with a population of 1,200 and without toilets, produces 300 kg of
human faecal matter every day.
"Imagine the amount of pollution to the surrounding environment and water due to the excreta that is left untreated!," the book says.
"If we assume that the food the villagers eat and beverages they drink are contaminated by even one per cent of the 300 kg of excreta, they are indirectly consuming, through their contaminated food, about three grams (equal to one
chocolate!) of each other's faecal matter every day," it says.
The book is meant to assist the elected representatives and functionaries of gram panchayats to keep their village
clean, end open defecation, manage liquid and solid waste in eco-friendly manner, encourage people in hygienic habits and pay special attention to hygiene in schools and anganwadis.
It says that human excreta contain a huge number of disease-causing pathogens and there is great scope for these
pathogens to enter the human system and food through air, flies, fluid, feet, fingers, fields, animals and motor
The Prime Minister launched an ambitious programme in October to make the country free from open defecation in five
years spending around Rs two lakh crore.
The Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) aims at attaining a 100 per cent open defecation free India by 2019, the 150th
birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The main objective of the programme is to bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the rural areas, by promoting cleanliness, hygiene and eliminating open defecation and accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas.
The main activities under the mission are incentives for individual household latrines, construction of community
sanitary complexes, solid and liquid waste management projects, information education and communication, capacity
building, monitoring and evaluation.
According to 2011 Census figures, only 32.7 per cent rural families have access to sanitation facilities in the country whereas the findings of the NSSO 2012 survey reveal that only 40.60 per cent rural households have access to toilets.
The government has enhanced the total assistance for rural household toilet from Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000. According to a parliamentary panel report tabled in the Lok Sabha recently, the practice of open defecation in India is due to combination of factors, the most prominent of them being the traditional behavioural pattern and lack of awareness of people about the associated health hazards.
In its report on drinking water and sanitation, the Standing Committee on Rural Development even noted the fact
that sanitation is mainly a mindset issue based on socio-cultural issues and habit.