NSO Survey Debunks ODF-Free India Claim

In News

A survey conducted by the National Statistical Organisation (NSO) has debunked the government claim of Open Defecation Free-India (ODF-Free India).


  • The governed has claimed that 95% of the households in the country were covered under its flagship scheme Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and had claimed that India is now ODF-Free.
  • But, the NSO survey shows that only 71% of the rural households in the country have access to toilets, poking a hole into the government claims.
  • The survey was carried between July and December 2018, with October 1 as the reference date.
  • Before the survey began, big states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat have claimed that they are 100% open defecation free.
  • States like Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu claimed to be of ODF-Free during the survey period.

The Findings

  • The Survey shows that 42% of households in Jharkhand had no access to toilets at that time.
  • The gap was 37% in Tamil Nadu and 34% in Rajasthan. These two states were one of the earliest to declare themselves as ODF.
  • For other states, the gap was Karnataka – 30%, Andhra Pradesh – 22% and Maharashtra – 22%.
  • While in the first week of October 2018 the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Grameen) said that 25 states and UTs are ODF with toilet access to 95% of the country.
    The NSO data shows that at that time 28.&% of rural households have no access to toilets.
  • Though, 71% of access to toilets is in itself a big achievement to NSO’s survey in 2012 where it was only 40%.
  • The data on the usage of toilets was also encouraging. According to NSO, 95% of households with access to toilets are using them.
  • This is a big achievement for the government.


  • The data shows that the next big challenge lies in the disposal of waste.
  • As per the data, while 50% of the households use septic tanks 21% use signal pits. Both of these need to be cleaned and the fecal sludge must be disposed safely.
  • The Swachh Bharat scheme recommended twin leach pit system was used only by 10% of households.
  • In this system the waste composts on its own without any need for disposal.
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