NEW DELHI: The human resource development (HRD) ministry has secured nearly Rs1,100 crore worth of commitment from private and public sector companies for its programme to build a toilet in every school—a plan outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech.
The commitments were made after HRD minister Smriti Irani met executives of over 100 companies and charitable foundations in New Delhi to chalk out a strategy on how they can contribute to building school toilets from their corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds.
“The response from corporate houses was encouraging. Sitting with companies and explaining the situation to them has its advantages. I strongly believe we will be able to provide toilets to all schools by 15 August 2015,” said Nagesh Singh, economic advisor at the HRD ministry.
Public sector companies have pledged Rs700 crore to the programme, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) and the Bharti Foundation Rs200 crore combined and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) lobby group is committed to build a “few thousand toilets” at a cost of Rs200 crore, Singh said after the conference.
Corporate executives like Maruti Suzuki India Ltd chairman R.C. Bhargava, Infosys Foundation chairperson Sudha Murthy, J&K Tyres chairman and CII head Raghupati Singhania and NTPC Ltd chairman Arup Roy Choudhury were among those who attended the meeting, the ministry said in a separate statement.
NTPC, India’s largest power producer, has signaled a commitment to construct 24,000 toilets, the statement said. Sudha Murthy, wife of Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy, identified 109 schools in Bhubaneswar where Infosys would build toilets. According to Census 2011, half of Indian citizens—over 600 million—do not have access to a toilet either at home or in their communities. According to the Annual Status of Education Report 2013, published by education non-profit Pratham, the percentage of usable toilets for girls has increased from 32.9% in 2010 to 53.3% in 2013.
That means 47% schools still do not have separate toilets for girls, increasing their chances of dropping out. India has more than 1.2 million schools catering to over 220 million students. Corporate houses said that they choose the schools and the ministry would give them a free hand to build toilets.
“We are already doing our bit in some schools and we are ready to help the HRD ministry. We did not commit any funds or number of schools today but we will study and come back to the ministry,” Bhargava said.
Vipin Arora, programme director, corporate initiative at TCS, said the company had already announced a Rs100 crore commitment and would soon identify the regions where it would build toilet facilities.
Sushil Jiwarajka, chairman of Artheon Group, a manufacturing company, said Prime Minister Modi’s call to companies to help build school toilets has been received well. The company is committed to building toilets in 100 schools and also share its know on low-cost durable toilets, he said. “All schools should have toilets with separate toilets for girls,” Modi had said on 15 August.
“Only then our daughters will not be compelled to leave schools midway. I call upon the corporate sector also to give priority to the provision of toilets in schools with your expenditure under corporate social responsibility. This target should be finished within one year with the help of states and on next 15 August, we should be in a firm position to announce there is no school in India without separate toilets for boys and girls,” he said.
Singh of the HRD ministry said that overall, the ministry is looking for around Rs3,000 crore of contributions by companies for building school toilets.