Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh took jocular swipes at the huge annual funds allocated to the defence ministry. Recently drinking water and sanitation department tied up with DRDO to set up bio-digestor toilets in 1,000 village panchayats across the country.
Jairam Ramesh said that just the cost of a single Rafale fighter could make 1,000 village panchayats “free from open-defecation”. Ministry of Defense is finalizing the acquisition of 126 of these French jets in MMRCA project which costs almost $20 billion. Jairam Ramesh added that Ministry of Defense got Rs 1.93 lakh crores while rural development budget was only Rs 99,000 crores.
Defence minister A K Antony reported that DRDO would provide Rural Development Ministry with bio-toilet technology, but Jairam Ramesh would have to manage funding by himself from state governments, other local bodies and NGOs for installation of the eco-friendly toilets. A K Antony said, “Money provided in the budget for defense is for national security”.
Jairam Ramesh said, “Broadly, in Phase-I, one lakh bio-digestor toilets will be installed in 300 gram panchayats over the next two years at a cost of Rs 150 crore. Phase-II and Phase-III will then follow”.
Jairam Ramesh clarified that he wanted the technologies developed by DRDO to benefit larger section of society and it is also necessary to spend on the country’s defence too. He aims to make 1000 panchayats open-defecation free by the means of these bio-toilets. These bio-toilets were originally developed for soldiers deployed in high altitude areas, by the DRDO.
All existing 50,000 coaches of the Indian Railways are also likely to be equipped with these bio-toilets within five years. It would cost around Rs 500 crore. Srikant Kumar Jena, Minister of state for statistics and programme implementation suggested that he would bring about amendments in the MPLADS guidelines so that funds can be released to MPs to provide the bio-toilets in their constituencies.
Source: The Times Of India