New Delhi, Jan. 13 -- In late 2019, the Narendra Modi government attempted to delay and then discredit an official survey that showed sanitation coverage was far lower than it was claimed. Another major government survey has now confirmed the trend: in five states, over one-third of the rural population still lack exclusive access to 'improved' sanitation for their households.

In Bihar, for instance, this figure is less than half, shows the data from the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey, held in 2019-2020. In rural Gujarat, nearly 37% residents do not have access to an improved facility. Kerala is the only state whether the situation on the ground is aligned with administrative data.

Administrative data from the Swachh B...