According to a news report in 2009, only 40% of the households in Haryana state had a toilet. Hygiene and sanitation are traditionally neglected issues in the state. One may ask how such vital concerns can be neglected. Considering that at the time of survey, about 70% of the households owned TV sets, pointing to the fact that perhaps even entertainment has gained precedence over adequate sanitation. Prioritization of hygiene is a key issue of development for a new and healthy Haryana.
According to the 2011 census, out of a total of 47,17,954 households in the state, about 14,80,012 do not have any toilet facilities within the premises. Out of these households, only 72,072 have access to public toilets and the rest are compelled to defecate in the open. The worst affected districts of the state in terms of number of households without toilets are Bhiwani (1,33,123 households), Jind (98,154 households), Mahendragarh (93,920 households), Hisar (93,902 households), and Sonipat (85,939 households).
In 2011, the state also had over 6,45,100 households with absolutely no drainage facility. In addition, 30,76,288 had open drains to dispose waste water compared to 9,96,566 households with close drainage. This exposes the great threat to healthy living that still exists and the vast scope for improvement on health and sanitation in the state.
Efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene in the state must start with awareness programs in rural areas. Communities must be made aware through roadshows, workshops and other campaigns that open defecation is a threat to the health of the entire community. Institution and maintenance of garbage disposal systems are mandatory in every village. Awareness of home purification systems of drinking water can be created by the village/community leaders.
Unless and until the citizens of a state are provided basic living conditions including acceptable levels of sanitation and hygiene, not much progress can be made. Lack of the basic amenities such as in-premise toilets and an efficient garbage disposal system will undo the investments made into healthcare and even education programmes. Our vision of a Naya Haryana must necessarily entail the creation of awareness and the demand for better ways of living.