During a recent visit to the Sabarmati Ashram in
Ahmedabad where a photo gallery vividly depicts the ideology and life
style of Mahatma Gandhi, my thoughts went around to connect the Father
of Nation with an independent and clean India. The Ashram serves as a
source of inspiration for we, young Indians, from the life of a Mahatma
who fought a non-violent battle against the mighty British empire and
won us Independence. In 2014, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi
launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM),thus so aptly on 2nd October,
“A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay
to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birthday anniversary in 2019”,
the Prime Minister had said after launch of the mission.
‘’Swachata” or Cleanliness was a way of life for
Gandhiji. As he fought the Britishers, he disliked several of the
western customs but was candid enough to say that he learnt sanitation
from the West. His dream was to introduce and spread that level of
cleanliness in India. “I learnt 35 years ago that a lavatory must be as
clean as a drawing-room. I learnt this in the West. I believe that many
rules about cleanliness in lavatories are observed more scrupulously in
the West than in the East. The cause of many of our diseases is the
condition of our lavatories and our bad habit of disposing of excreta
anywhere and everywhere. I, therefore, believe in the absolute necessity
of a clean place for answering the call of nature and clean articles for
use at the time. I have accustomed myself to them and wish that all
others should do the same. The habit has become so firm in me that even
if I wished to change it, I would not be able to do so. Nor do I wish to
change it”. His words are pertinent and relate eminently to the Swachch
Bharat Mission, a dream project of Shri Modi, who is passionate about
Launched under a mission mode, the SBM has surely
achieved some measurable targets in the last three years. These include
construction of 28, 96,367 household toilets across the country, while
43,200 wards have been covered for 100 per cent door - to - door waste
collection. As per the ‘dashboard’ (real time figures) of the Swachh
Bharat portal, over a million (10, 29,124) Indian Household Toilets have
been constructed only in the last eight months since January 2017.
The work has really picked up pace in the recent months
is evident from a huge jump, in fact more than double in the number of
community and public toilets since January this year. There number has
gone up from 1, 09,639 in January to 2, 71,766 in August this year.
Hundrerd per cent target has been achieved under the
Swachh Vidyalaya initiative of the Narendra Modi Government with Bihar
leading the table. As many as 56,912 schools have been given toilets
with half of the number of toilets constructed in the girls’ schools.
The other states doing commendable work under this initiative include
Andhra Pradesh with 49, 293 toilets completed and about 22,000 being
meant only for girls’ schools. Assam achieved the figure of 35,699,
Chhattisgarh 16,629, Jharkhand 15,795, Rajasthan 12,083, Telangana
36,159 and Odisha 43,501.
The Swachh Bharat programme has been linked directly with
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative. Under the joint programme initiative
it is being ensured that there are girls’ toilets in all Government
schools in 100 districts which have the lowest child sex ratio. These
districts include Vaishali in Bihar, Raigarh in Chhattisgarh, Kamrup in
Assam and D & N Haveli.
The mission aims to eliminate open defecation in all
statutory towns by 2nd October, 2019. In addition, it also proposes to
eradicate manual scavenging, introduce modern and scientific waste
management, induce behavioural change with respect to healthy sanitation
practices and generate awareness for sanitation. SBM also aims to
augment the capacity of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and create an enabling
environment for the private sector in waste management.
Deliverables for Swachh Bharat Mission under the NITI
Ayog ‘s Three –Year Action Agenda 2017-2019-20
ULBs spend about Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,500 per tonne on solid
waste management, according to the NITI Ayog Three Year Action Agenda.
Out of earmarked budget, about 60 - 70 per cent is spent on the
collection of waste and 20 - 30 per cent on transportation. However, a
negligible percentage is dedicated towards the treatment and disposal of
Some of the sustainable disposal solutions include: Waste
to energy (Incineration), thermal pyrolysis and plasma gasification
technologies. While pyrolysis is not suitable for MSW due to diverse
composition and plasma gasification technologies are very expensive,
waste to energy is the most suitable technology as it has multi-fold
benefits. In countries like Singapore, more than 37.6 per cent of waste
is used for waste-to-energy plants for incineration and energy recovery.
Elimination of Open Defecation is another crucial aspect
of SBM. In order to achieve the objective of becoming Open Defecation
Free (ODF) by 2019, 55 million household toilets and 115,000 community
toilets need to be constructed under the SBM (Gramin), as per the NITI
Ayog document. Focus should be on how to ensure that there is easy
access to sanitation for women, children, senior citizens and the
differently abled and also that these toilets have continuous piped
The Swachh Bharat roadmap laid out before the country is
clear and well defined. But to ensure a result oriented programme, there
is a need for all stakeholders, mainly the citizens of India to join the
campaign being led by the Prime Minister. No effort can be spared and
no avenue left unexplored to achieve the target of a cleaner India.
Chawla is a Public Policy Professional, practising and writing on policy
and governance issues.
expressed in the article are author’s personal.