The Centre is planning to formulate a law against the use of dry toilets and the erring persons could even be sent to jail, Union minister Jairam Ramesh said here on Friday.
"The government will soon formulate a law under which users of dry toilets will be punished and even sent to jail," the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj minister said while addressing a programme to launch "Maila Mukti Yatra" under Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan.
He informed that the Centre has earmarked Rs1,500 crore to convert dry toilets into flush toilets under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.
The minister also expressed hope that India would get rid of the practice of open-area defecation over the next ten years and lauded Sikkim for taking a lead in this regard.
"Some states have made a headway in this regard. Sikkim is the first state in the country where the practice of open-area defecation has been eradicated," he said adding, states like Kerala, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh also have done well.
The minister also said that women self-help groups engaged in eradicating the practice of carrying night-soil would be given top priority in the Rural Livelihood Mission specially in skill development programmes and for getting assistance from banks.
The country has made huge progress in all sectors and it is unfortunate that 60 per cent women still defecate in open and over three lakh families engaged in the work of carrying night-soil, Ramesh lamented.
Ramesh felt that besides government programmes, a sort of socio-political movement is also necessary to deal with this kind of situation.
The function was also addressed by Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Swami Agnivesh.
The "Maila Mukti Yatra" yatra comprises women from various parts of the country including 11,000 from Madhya Pradesh, who got rid of the practice of carrying night-soil, will reach New Delhi on January 31 after passing through 200 districts covering 18 states.
Earlier, Ramesh reviewed the progress being made by the state in implementing various rural development programmes including Prime Minister Rural Road Scheme.