Sanitation is India's biggest failure, says Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Thursday said poor sanitation was the one "significant failure" of Indian society, and linked it to malnutrition among children.

"The sanitation story is unfortunately depressing. At least two-thirds households (in rural areas) are indulging in open defecation," Ramesh said, releasing a report on rural development here.

He said that physical infrastructure in rural areas has seen a significant transformation, but the story was not positive in terms of social infrastructure.

Ramesh observed that the situation with regard to availability of drinking water was better, but quality remained a concern. "The problem is not with availability, but quality of water," he said.

The minister said one factor that has been ignored is the link between malnutrition and open defecation. "Sanitation picture is the single biggest failure not only of the Indian state, but also of Indian society," he said.

Ramesh also said that the divide between rural and urban areas was decreasing. "Rural areas are becoming more and more urban, they retain rural governance, but have urban characteristics. We have no policies to deal with this," the minister said.

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