Factually incorrect and misleading Media Report on “Vanishing Toilets in Madhya Pradesh”

A recent media report in The Times of India, dated 10thFebruary, 2020 and titled ‘In MP, 4.5 lakh Swachh toilets disappeared in Rs. 540 cr scam”, has made random extrapolations based on incomplete and unverified data. The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, would like to place on record that this report, and other newspaper articles that have quoted this report, are factually incorrect and misleading.

The survey in question was an informal and preliminary data collection exercise by the grassroots volunteers called Swachhagrahis, to identify if any gaps have been left on the ground so as to ensure that no one is left behind. Based on this preliminary report, the State Government initiated a formal verification process through district collectors. So far, about 46,365 of the “missing” SBM toilets have been checked and it has been found that only 649 (1.39%) were actually missing. Under the SBM(G)’s ‘No One Left Behind (NOLB)’ component, these households will be ensured access to toilets on priority.

This ongoing verification exercise by district collectors prima facie indicates that the entire report is exaggerated. Meanwhile, to extrapolate a “multi crore scam” from this exercise is not only erroneous, but seems to be biased and intentionally misleading.

The SBM(G) has always functioned to ensure maximum accountability and transparency in its implementation. All financial incentives in Madhya Pradesh have been paid through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) over the past three years. Any identified error is corrected on priority by the state government, and appropriate action will be taken against those responsible in this case as well.

A team of officials from the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, has also been sent to assess the sanitation status of the identified households.