Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited Germany between June 26 and June 28, for the 48th G7 summit, made several claims regarding India’s developmental achievements in the past seven years.
PM Modi highlighted India’s growth story and mentioned various initiatives undertaken by the government with the aim to achieve the country’s development agenda. He lauded the contribution of the diaspora in promoting India’s “success story”.
While addressing them in Munich, the PM spoke of tremendous growth in various sectors like providing electricity, road connectivity, gas connections and toilet facilities. FactChecker shortlisted four quantifiable claims that had data available in the public domain and could be verified.
Prime Minister Modi claimed, “Today every village in India is open defecation free.”
India was declared open defecation free by the Centre in October 2019, on its Integrated Management Information System of Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin.
However, a few reports show discrepancies between the government’s Swachh Bharat Mission data and other official reports.
The government has defined “open defecation free” as “the termination of faecal-oral transmission, defined by, 1) no visible faeces found in the environment/village and 2) every household as well as public/community institutions using safe technology option for disposal of faeces”.
Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) was launched in October 2014 with the aim to make the country’s rural areas open defecation free by October 2, 2019, by providing access to toilets to all rural households. As of February, about 10.9 crore individual household latrines have been constructed in the country.
FactChecker looked at three data sources to verify this claim: National Family Health Survey-5, World Health Organization’s and UNICEF’s July 2021 report and the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (2019-2020).
According to the National Family Health Survey-5 published in March, while 83% of households have access to a toilet facility in the country, 19% do not use any toilet facility, meaning that they practice open defecation, the report read.
Access to toilets is much higher accessibility in urban areas (96%) than in rural areas (76%). Access to a toilet facility ranges from 69% among scheduled tribe households to 93% among households that do not belong to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe or other backward classes. Bihar (62%) had the lowest access to a toilet facility, followed by Jharkhand (70%) and Odisha (71%).
In all, the percentage of households practising open defecation decreased from 39% in 2015-’16 to 19% in 2019-’21.
Previously, a July 2021 report on water, sanitation and hygiene by the World Health Organization and UNICEF had said that at least 15% of the total population in India defecates in the open. This included 22% of the rural population and 1% of the urban population.
According to the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey report, of the 91,934 rural households surveyed, 94.4% had access to toilets. This means that 5.6% of households did not have access to a toilet.
The PM also claimed, “Today electricity has reached every village in India.”
The central government’s scheme for providing 24X7 uninterrupted power supply to all households includes Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, Integrated Power Distribution Scheme and Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana. The government had launched the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana scheme in December 2014 for rural electrification works across the country and in October 2017, the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) scheme was launched for electrification of the remaining unelectrified households in rural and urban areas.
On April 28, 2018, the Union government declared that all inhabited un-electrified villages as per the Census 2011 as electrified. Under the Saubhagya scheme, as of March 2021, the government has declared 100% electrification of all the willing un-electrified households, identified before March 2019. The Union Ministry of Power defines a village electrified if:
- Basic infrastructure, such as distribution transformer and distribution lines are provided in the inhabited locality as well as the Dalit Basti hamlet where it exists.
- Electricity is provided to public places like schools, panchayat office, health centres, dispensaries and community centres.
- The number of households electrified should be at least 10% of the total number of households in the village.
This shows that not all households in a village need to be electrified for the village to be declared electrified.
Under Saubhagya, around 2.817 crore households were electrified across the country up till March 2021. However, according to the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-’21) data, 96.8% of the population live in households with electricity. This means that over 3% of the Indian population lives in unelectrified homes.
In November 2021, FactChecker verified Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles Piyush Goyal’s claim of the entire state of Uttar Pradesh receiving 24-hr electricity and found that an entire village of around 450 people in Etah district was yet to be electrified.
Besides, there were an average of 7.84 interruptions causing power supply outages for an average of 25 hours and 51 minutes in urban regions of Uttar Pradesh.
Prime Minister Modi also claimed, “Today almost every village in India is connected by road.”
The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, launched in 2000, is a flagship scheme of the central government to provide good all-weather connectivity to unconnected habitations in rural areas. The scheme defines an unconnected habitation as a population of 500 persons and above in plain areas and 250 and above in hilly areas.
It is to be noted that the figures from the Census 2001 is used as the basis of determining the population size of habitation.
FactChecker looked at Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana data between 2017 and 2021 and found that the Centre could not meet any of its road coverage targets all these years. In 2017-’18, the Centre had covered 95.4% of its targeted length, which downed to 85% in 2018-’19.
In 2019-’20, the coverage of the targeted length further dropped to 54.4%. Of the 9,721 targeted habitations, 4,149 were connected with roads. In 2020-’21, the coverage increased to 79.4% and in 2021-22, the Centre covered 83.94 % of the road network it aimed to build connecting 1,216 habitations of 2,025 target habitations.
PM Modi also claimed, “Today every poor person in India is getting free treatment of Rs 5 lakh.”
The Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana was launched in September 2018 and aimed at providing health insurance of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary healthcare hospitalisations.
But not all those who are poor can avail benefits of the scheme as there is an eligibility criteria. The ones who are automatically eligible to receive this insurance are “households without shelter, manual scavenger families, destitute/those living on alms and primitive tribal groups”.
The next criteria for availing the scheme’s benefits is called ‘deprivation criteria’, which includes, scheduled tribe and scheduled caste households, female-headed households with no adult male member between ages 16 to 59 and disabled members in a household.
While the number of eligible beneficiaries, identified by the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011, was 10.74 crore families (50 crore people), 33 states and Union Territories have expanded coverage of the scheme to include 13.44 crore families (65 crore people). There are two reasons “every poor person” in India does not get this facility:
- Three states and a Union Territory, namely West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi, have not implemented this scheme.
- Not every poor person in India falls under the government’s fixed criteria.
Moreover, access to quality healthcare is elusive for a large proportion of the population in India. The Covid-19 pandemic, and particularly its second wave, exposed serious deficiencies in the public health systems of several states.
In a June 2022 study done to compare the rollout of the program in two Indian States, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which have relatively better health indicators compared with other Indian States, the researchers found, “Low reimbursement rates may limit the number of private hospitals participating in the program, and that the classification criteria for eligibility may need to be updated.”
FactChecker tried reaching out to the Prime Minister’s office asking for clarification on his statements, but had not heard back by the time of publishing this article. If and when we do, the response will be updated here.
This article first appeared on FactChecker.in, a publication of the data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit IndiaSpend.