Is Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan becoming collateral damage of the spike in Maoist insurgency? The pace of building toilets, key to ending the problem of open defecation, is slower in Naxal insurgency affected states.
A senior government official said that toilet construction activities are not progressing at the desired pace in Naxal-affected areas.
According to government officials, state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) is constructing toilets under the Clean India Mission in coal-bearing areas.
Many of India’s coal mines are located in remote forests populated by tribals. Poverty, illiteracy and exploitation of labour are rife in these areas which form the pocketboroughs of Naxals. Money from illegal coal mining also fuels Maoist insurgency in these areas. The Naxal insurgency is particularly strong in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
“There would be problems in Maoist-affected areas. We are trying to do whatever we can,” said Anil Swarup, India’s coal secretary.
The Swachh Bharat mission is among the pet projects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi under which it targets to construct 60 million toilets. Of this, 5 million were built in 2014-15.