8.5 lakh toilets in Bihar was easily doable: Government
New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's claim of Bihar constructing 8.5 lakh toilets in a week created widespread disbelief, the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation on Thursday shared its own calculation showing how it was "easily doable".
"It has been reported by some media outlets that such a rate of progress is impossible based on the calculation of a 'per day' or 'per minute' rate of toilet construction, working backwards from these figures. This is an incorrect interpretation of the data," the ministry said in a statement.
On Tuesday, at the culmination of Champaran centenary celebrations in Motihari, Modi said, "In the last one week, more than 850,000 toilets have been constructed in Bihar. This is a great achievement. I congratulate the people, the 'Swachhagrahis' and the state government for this."
Many opposition leaders raised questions about its authenticity. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav had tweeted a calculation from the figures that resulted in 84 toilets per minute. His tweet said: "Such a big goof-up from PM Sahab. I believe even CM Bihar won't agree on such false claims."
However, the ministry said there was an increased momentum in the campaign during the weeklong "Satyagraha se Swachhagraha" due to the 20,000 Swachhagrahis across the state and work did not go sequentially but was done parallelly across the 34,000-odd villages in Bihar.
It said though the state built 10.2 lakh toilets across its 38 districts between March 14 and April 10, "most of this activity was seen during the 'Satyagraha se Swachhagraha' campaign (April 3 to 10), wherein the focused activity by 20,000 Swachhagrahis across the state lent greater momentum to the campaign".
"A twin pit toilet typically takes 3-4 days to construct, and this activity happened in parallel across approximately 34,000 villages in Bihar. Dividing the total toilets constructed in this period (March 14 - April 10) by the number of villages in Bihar, this works out to 1.1 toilet constructed per day per village, which is easily doable," the ministry said.
"To calculate a 'per minute' rate of these toilets is therefore misleading, as it incorrectly assumes construction of all toilets in one village sequentially," it said.
However, the ministry went on to add that the Bihar government is working on identifying any incomplete toilets after the pits were dug for them in the period of the campaign and is focusing on urgently completing them.
"Any misrepresentation of data on part of local administration will be strictly dealt with by the Bihar government," it added.