By Virendra Pandit
AHMEDABAD: Responding to the Independence Day appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leading corporate houses and a university have come up with big ticket projects to set up around 30,000 new toilets in schools, with funds to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees.
While Larsen and Toubro plans to construct some 5,000 toilets, the Vedanta Group’s Hindustan Zinc would construct 10,000 and the Jaipur-based Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) University has plans to add 13,000 toilets in 6,500 schools.
In August, the Sunil Mittal-led Bharati Enterprises’ development arm, Bharati Foundation, had announced ₹100 crore for setting up toilets in Ludhiana over the next three years and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), too, had pledged ₹100 crore towards financing hygienic sanitation facilities for girl students across 10,000 schools.
In particular, IIHMR University, which had already constructed nearly 40,000 toilets in Churu and Hanumangarh districts of Rajasthan and declared Churu “open defecation free” recently, will construct another 6,500 toilets in schools separately for both boys and girls, with sanitary napkin disposal facility.
“In order to raise Rs. 100 crore for this purpose, we are interacting with corporate houses to contribute from their CSR fund over the next two years,” Dr Goutam Sadhu, Associate Professor and Dean (Rural Management) and Project Director, IIHMR, told. “We are also considering to expand the project to Karnataka and West Bengal.”
He said construction of a school toilet by the university costs ₹55,000 and another ₹15,000 is needed for its maintenance for two years. Fifteen per cent of this amount is borne by the local community at a contribution of just ₹5 per household. The university also plans to renovate the existing school toilets around Rajasthan.
The Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Group company Hindustan Zinc ltd (HZL), which has already constructed 9,000 toilets in Rajasthan, out of its planned 30,000, will build another 10,000 in the next two years, said Pavan Kaushik, company spokesman. He said the HZL initiative will make 80 rural and tribal villages in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara, Chittorgarh and Udaipur districts open defecation free. Out of the ₹8,500 cost for an individual toilet, the Rajasthan Government is contributing ₹4,600, HZL ₹3,000 and the community’s contribution is ₹900 each. These toilets will also minimise use of water and the risk of contamination of drinking water.
Sesa Copper, a subsidiary of Vedanta Group’s Sesa Sterlite Ltd, under its Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, has initiated a similar project to construct 200 toilets at a cost of ₹1 crore for the families living below-the-poverty-line (BPL) in two villages in Tutcorin, Tamil Nadu.
According to the IIHMR University, designated by the Union Government as a National Key Resource Centre on sanitation, nearly 2.76 crore children (including 1.35 crore girls), or 14.7 per cent of total children enrolled in schools, do not have access to toilet facility in schools. Also, a UNDP-HDR report of 2006 says 44.3 crore school days are lost each year due to water-related illnesses.
Dr SD Gupta, President, IIHMR University, said seven states – Orissa, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Assam and Bihar – account for almost 50 per cent, or 1.38 crore children, without access to toilet facilities in schools. The IIHMR-constructed toilets will have facilities like water, doors, disposal of sanitary napkins, hand washing and proper operation and management system of these toilets.
Initially, L&T, as part of “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan”, would build 2,000 toilets scale up the number to 5,000, A M Naik, Chairman, said recently. The facility of toilets in schools would increase enrolment and access to schools easier.
The Adani Foundation has also provided total sanitation facility in all the households in 26 villages of Mundra block (Gujarat) and two villages in Tiroda block (Maharastra). Altogether 3,643 individual toilets have been built in Mundra block and 275 in Tiroda block, a spokesman said.
(11 September, The Hindu Business Line)