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Q. Swachh Bharat Ambiyan: Building toilets won’t suffice to realise its objective, there is need of broad based approach for sustainable sanitation. Comment.
Mar 29, 2016 Related to : GS Paper - 2

Ans :

Introduction-

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) is government of India’s national campaign aimed to make India clean by accomplishing various objectives like eradication open defection, linking people with programmes like sanitation, public health etc. The mission has seen an unprecedented discourse and policy on sanitation from vast campaigns to the Swachh Bharat cess on services. Also government allocated 11,300 crore rupees (in 2016-17 budget) for this mission shows importance given to it.

Why we need broad based approach?

So far (in last 17 months) the mission seemingly focussed on the number of toilets to be built. Though constructing toilets is most important task, but simply creating infrastructure (toilets) won’t propel towards realising its main objective to make India Open Defection Free by 2019. The focus needs to shift from building toilets to build, use, maintain and treat, for that we need a focussed awareness campaign for universal sanitation. To accrue real benefits of this mission we need to keep sight of the entire sanitation value chain to ensure sustainability of this massive national effort.

Many studies have shown that toilets have been built in many villages, but people were not using those due to various reasons, for that we need to focus on changing the behaviour of people towards usage of toilets. Even government emphasised on this aspect, recently issued guidelines define the criteria for declaring a village as `Open Defecation Free’ to include not just access to a toilet, but also usage of toilet and safe technology. To realise it, government needs to focus on providing associated provisions like water, safe disposal, operations and maintenance funds etc. Failing to do so will risk the current spends and those infrastructures may remain unused and it also affects on public health and environment.

Way ahead-

To realise the ambition of sustainable sanitation, we need to bring to the forefront issues such as the undervaluing of operations and maintenance and waste treatment projects while simultaneously building toilets. To involve multiple players in sanitation process we must provide framework to create a business model which is economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound.


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