The Economic Survey 2017-18 takes note of the basic fact that quality of hygiene and sanitation has significant impact on improving the health outcomes. With the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) on 2nd October, 2014, the sanitation coverage in rural India has increased substantially from 39 per cent in 2014 to 76 per cent in January, 2018. The Economic Survey 2017- 18 was tabled in Parliament today by the Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley.
The number of persons defecating in open in rural areas, which were 55 crore in October, 2014 declined to 25 crore in January, 2018. So far, 296 districts and 307,349 villages all over India have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Eight states and two union territories such as Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Daman & Diu and Chandigarh have been declared as ODF completely. The surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) and Quality Council of India (QCI) on usage of toilets by the individuals who have access to toilets reported more than 90 per cent of individuals using toilets in 2016 and 2017.
The Survey satisfactorily notes that there has been substantial reduction in the number of persons defecating in open in rural areas which has had positive health and economic impact in ODF areas. In a report, ‘The Financial and Economic Impact of SBM in India’, UNICEF estimated that a household in an ODF village in rural India saves Rs 50,000/- every year.