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Unsafe houses, lack of toilets still a reality

- Directorate of Census Operations organises event on the reach of essential facilities to residents

Bihar has achieved a double-digit growth rate in its gross state domestic product (GSDP) in 2011-12 but quite a substantial percentage of the state’s population is still bereft of essential facilities like concrete houses and toilets.

The hope of a solid roof over their heads is still far way off for several residents of the state, as 32.2 per cent of houses have roofs made of bamboo, polythene and mud. If that was not enough, hand pumps are still the main source of drinking water for a staggering 86.6 per cent population.

Mrityunjay Kumar, deputy director, Directorate of Census Operations, Bihar, pointed out that even though people living under dilapidated roofs have come down since 2001, there is still a long way to go. He said: “In 2001, 34.9 per cent families in Bihar were living in houses with roofs made of straw, bamboo, polythene and mud. The percentage of such people has gone down to 32.2 per cent according to the data of house listing and house census, 2011.”

The GSDP has grown by 13.13 per cent in 2011-12.

Such figures and more were discussed at the inauguration of a two-day workshop on house listing and house census of 2011 that began in the state capital on Friday. The Directorate of Census Operations, Bihar, has organised the two-day event. Statistical officers from all the districts of Bihar attended the first day of the workshop.

Among the data highlighted at the workshop, the officials who conducted the census pointed out that 2.8 per cent families are homeless, while 75.8 per cent of the state’s population do not have access to toilets.

Araria is ranked first among the districts where 90 per cent of the households do not have bathrooms.

However, such conditions are not confined to remote districts of the state. In Patna district too, 45.3 per cent of homes do not have toilets. With development being the catchword of the Nitish Kumar government, such figures point at the lack of inclusive growth across society.

Amrit Lal Meena, principal secretary, rural development department, who attended the inaugural session of the workshop, said the house listing census helped the government identify sectors where the housing schemes have not reached. He added: “The census results are helpful in identifying how many people have availed of the housing facilities under the Union government’s Indira Awas Yojana. There are many people who do not enjoy the benefits of this scheme and this census helps us in identifying people who are still homeless.”

Focusing on the findings related to cooking gas, Jitendra Kumar Sinha, joint director, Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Bihar, said: “34.7 per cent households in Bihar use wood for cooking and only 8.1 per cent households use LPG cooking gas. In Sheohar and Supaul, only 2.7 per cent households use LPG cylinders. In Patna district, 69.5 per cent households use LPG cylinders.”

The reach of communication also has a long way to go in the rural areas of Bihar, few of the other speakers said.


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