India Spent $4.2 Billion on Rural Drinking Water Pipes

India has spent 260.6 billion rupees ($4.2 billion) since April 2012 building pipes to supply more drinking water to rural homes, according to new government figures.

The nation, where only 31 percent of the 167 million rural households have access to tap water and toilets, plans to spend a total of 687.86 billion rupees adding pipelines in the five years ending March 2017, Birender Singh, minister for drinking water and sanitation, said today in Parliament.

The infrastructure upgrade means India’s National Rural Drinking Water Program will have piped supplies to 90 percent of village homes by 2022, the minister said. Of the 56,952 habitations targeted by the program in the financial year that started this April, less than half or 25,107 were covered by the end of November, Singh told Parliament’s upper house.

The federal government in India, home to 18 percent of the world’s population, has spent 67.98 billion rupees since April 2011 building toilets for its people in a move to reduce its outdoor defecation rate. Yet 67 percent of village homes have no access to toilets, the minister said.

The government has set Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday in 2019 as its target for achieving “total sanitation,” including access to toilets for all 1.2 billion residents. India accounts for about 60 percent of the world’s residents without toilets, according to a May report by the World Health Organization and Unicef. The country’s 50 percent open defecation figure compares with 23 percent in Pakistan, 3 percent in Bangladesh and 1 percent in China, the report said.

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