Sanitation Coverage In India Doubles In 2017
Under the ambitious Clean India Mission started by the Narendra Modi-led government three years ago, the sanitation coverage in the country has doubled during 2017. The primary focus of the mission still remains behaviour change for an open-defecation-free nation.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has kept its focus on the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) programme and also, promoted gender-sensitive information, behaviour change guidelines and various mass education activities to educate people regarding the use of toilets and to promote hygiene and cleanliness.
According to the ministry, IEC activities like door-to-door IPC (interpersonal communication), Swachhata raths, rallies, marathons, felicitation of champions, quiz and painting competitions for awareness generation and mass mobilisation of communities across the rural hinterland are carried out to bring about a change in behaviour.
Focusing on the construction of toilets, since 2014, 568.15 lakh individual household latrines have been built, a 35.45 per cent increase in sanitation coverage since then. Sanitation coverage was 74.15 per cent on December 18 as compared to 38.70 per cent on October 2.
While all Union ministries and departments started to work for its realisation with appropriate budget provisions, a separate budget head was created for this by the Ministry of Finance.
During the financial year 2017-18, 77 ministries and departments have committed funds worth Rs 12,468.62 crore for their Swachhta Action Plan (SAP). SAP implementation started on April 1.
Under the mission, the government also identified 100 model Swachh tourist destinations under a special clean-up initiative focused on developing iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country in collaboration with corporates and PSUs.
However, despite many efforts, there still are gaps. A report by environment body The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) pointed out that "although some cities are aiming at the ODF-plus status with adequate solid waste management, sewerage lines, and storm water drains, many continue to lag behind in incorporating the holistic approach that encompasses managing faecal sludge and septage in planning for sustainable sanitation".
The report also emphasised that the "government needs to focus on improving the regulatory mechanism by devolving powers to urban local bodies and introduce stringent regulatory measures in scientific management of solid waste and septage for strict enforcement of the 'polluter-pays' principle".
To help the citizens, the government also released an app that allows people to locate the nearest toilet using Google maps, providing directions and distance.
With inputs from Housing News