Context:

  • After two and a half years, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has witnessed several notable achievements in reducing open defecation but it still has a long way to go to make it a grand success by October 2,2019

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement), implemented from October 2nd, 2014, is a campaign by the Government of India to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country’s 4,041 statutory cities and towns.

Objectives of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan:

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan aims to:

  • Bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the rural areas, by promoting cleanliness, hygiene and eliminating open defecation.
  • Accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas to achieve the vision of Swachh Bharat by 2nd October 2019.
  • Motivate Communities and Panchayati Raj Institutions to adopt sustainable sanitation practices.
  • Encourage cost effective and appropriate technologies for ecologically safe and sustainable sanitation.
  • Develop wherever required, Community managed sanitation systems focusing on scientific Solid & Liquid Waste Management.

Positive impact of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan:

  • The biggest positive achieved in one year of Swachh Bharat has been the change of attitude and civic sense orientation of kids with over 51% respondents confirming it.
  • Almost 13% believe that the availability of public toilets has improved in their city.
  • Overall, 21% of the citizens believe that their city has become cleaner in the last one year as a result of Swachh Bharat Mission. This is more than 1/5th of the citizens and shows that the Mission has had an impact.
  • A key issue identified by citizens is the involvement of municipalities in Swachh Bharat Mission and engaging citizens in the same.
  • 95% of the respondents believe that it is critical for the city/municipal leadership to engage with citizens on this mission.
  • In addition, 94% of the citizens’ say, that their municipality needs a major upgrade on all fronts including skills, processes, systems, equipment, people and leadership.
  • The community also believes that the Swachh Bharat Ambassadors have been under-utilized in the first year.
  • With over 82% respondents suggesting that the ambassadors can be a local node that can motivate citizens and municipalities to work together.
  • Also, 87% of the respondents believe that a city’s ability to deliver on Swachh Bharat milestones should be a critical requirement before any smart city funds are released to the city.
  • The last three years have seen an increase from 42 per cent to 65.02 per cent in national sanitation coverage.
  • Five states, 149 districts and 2.08 lakh villages and 22 per cent of the cities and towns have already been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).
  • 50 per cent of the urban wards have achieved 100 per cent door-to-door solid waste collection; and over 20,000 Swachhagrahi volunteers are working across urban local bodies, and over a lakh are working in rural India.
  • The number of schools with separate toilet facilities for girls has increased from 0.4 million (37 per cent) to almost one million (91 per cent).

Open Defecation Free (ODF): key points:

  1. The government is aiming to achieve an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2 October 2019.
  2. The government also made it clear that the success of Swacch Bharat Mission (SBM) will be analysed on the parameters of ODF.
  • But it is also to be noted that achieving ODF status alone is not sufficient for the success of SBM. Attention to the complete sanitation cycle is required, where toilets not only need to be built and used but the waste generated also needs to be collected and treated properly.
  1. Open-Defecation Free encompasses a number of factors which are important determinants for the success of the mission.
  • It has a direct relationship to caste, creed, religion and gender, which makes it complicated to achieve.

The recent report of National Sample Survey: Statistical

  • The recent report of National Sample Survey (NSS) states that 52.1 per cent of people in rural India choose open defecation compared to 7.5 per cent in urban India.
  • According to NSS data, 13.1 per cent of the villages and 42 per cent urban wards have community toilets but they were not being used in most of the villages and urban wards.
  • Community toilets were not being cleaned and monitored on daily basis.
  • While 87.9 per cent of the urban households were found to have access to water for use in toilets, only 42.5 per cent rural households had this facility.
  • As per the report, one can draw the fact that the main reason for open defecation is behavior and mindset of the people who have continued the practice for centuries.

Hurdles of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan:

Behavioral change:

  • The biggest problem in India has never been the building of toilets; it has been promoting their use.
  • Toilet use has never been an embedded cultural practice especially in the rural area. Behavioral patterns need quite a lot of time to change. With 2019 being the goal-year, it will be a tough job.

Waste management:

  • The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan misses out on one of the key ingredients of clean cities, waste management.
  • Most of the solid waste generated in cities is dumped in landfill sites, which the report describes as “non-scientific” and “rudimentary”.
  • These sites, apart from being health hazards, also pose a serious threat to land and water resources.

Sewage Management:

  • Many of India’s big cities are struggling to treat their sewage as well.
  • According to figures from the 2016 collection of environment statistics, Delhi’s sewage treatment capacity was only 60% of its total sewage generation.
  • The figure is less than half for many big cities in eastern and central India.

GST’s Impact:

  • The implementation of GST brings in the abolition of cess and surcharges levied by the government, which includes the Swachh Bharat cess.
  • The rolling out of GST will see the abolition of the Swachh Bharat cess. Along with the abolition of the Krishi Kalyan cess, levied for financing agricultural benefits to farmers and education cess, which helps in covering the cost of government sponsored educational programmes.
  • The discontinuing of cesses would result in an estimated loss of 65, 000 crore by the exchequer.
  • Another impact is the implementation of a high tax rate of 18% on soaps and toiletries compared to the existing 12% and 12% on sanitary napkins.

Social:

  • Many communities still regard the inclusion of a sanitary toilet as ritual and physical pollution of the house.
  • And the less conservative ones are ready to accept only large, expensive and unscientific structures much bigger than those recommended by the WHO.

Initiatives under Swacch bharat Abhiyan:

  • The government is aiming to achieve an Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2 October 2019 by constructing 12 million toilets in rural India.
  • Under Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), the incentive for individual toilet has been increased from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 12,000, to provide for water, including for storing water for hand-washing and cleaning.
  • The Ministry of Railways is planning to have the facility of cleaning on demand, clean bed-rolls from automatic laundries, bio-toilets, dustbins in all non-AC coaches.
  • Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan was restructured by Cabinet approval on 24 September 2014 as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  • The Abhiyan aims at construction of individual household latrines for which the enhanced incentive for individual household latrine units has been extended to all Below Poverty Line (BPL) Households and Above Poverty Line Households (APL) restricted to SCs/STs, small and marginal farmers, landless laborers with homestead, physically handicapped and women headed households.
  • The Ministry of Urban Development of the country had set an ambitious target of October 2019 for converting all organic waste generated in cities into compost or biogas, and marketing the compost with the help of fertiliser companies.
  • Composting will not only reduce the volume of waste to landfill/ dumpsite by converting the waste into useful by-products but also prevent production of harmful greenhouse gases and toxic material that pollutes groundwater apart from polluting the environment
  • CSR Initiative under Swachh Bharat, has been stressing on the fact that, each household should have proper sanitation facilities with covered toilet with proper doors and water facilities.

Suggestions:

  • India has a large number of disabled people whose needs require customized solutions.
  • Toilets are not only to be built and used but the waste generated also needs to be collected and treated properly.
  • Achieving ODF is the collective responsibility of the entire nation, not just the government.
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