Prof. P L Kaul
Cleanness is very important whether it is our home, work place or public place. It is one of the basic needs of a civilised family. Cleanliness. / sanitation is a right which any citizen needs to exercise and (Swachh Bharat Mission ) is all set to give this right back to the citizen. The problem of open defecation was long recognised as a sanitation concern in India. However, it is first time Prime Minister Narendra Modijis’ Govt has initiated such a concerted efforts to eliminate this problem. Improvement in sanitation related services are crucial in reducing the incidence of both vector borne and water borne diseases.. Mahatma Gandhi the father of our nation gave the mantra “Cleanliness is Godliness “and our Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspired by Mahatma Gandhi in making cleanliness and sanitation an integral part of healthy and peaceful living, launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014 on the occasion of Ghandhijis’Birth anniversary at Rajghat, New Delhi with the aim to accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation to improve the quality of life among the people. .The Prime Minister set an ambitious goal of eliminating open defecation by the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi On 2nd October2019. It is a wakeup call for the country / World to focus the relevance of Gandhiji’s philosopy to achieve vision of Clean India. This galvanised the entire nation and administration to an active mode, setting large number of professionals in different states, districts and villages with new ideas and energy, use of social and mass media to educate and motivate the public, district officials who felt pride at their achievement in ridding villages of open defecation. Clean India Mission focuses on the eradication of open defecation in the country and efforts have been made for the same since its inception on 2nd October, 2014.Before, people used to relieve themselves in fields, bushes, railway track sides, water bodies and other open spaces rather than using a toilet.
The mission further aims to provide sanitation facilities including toilets to every rural family, and to improve /promote solid waste management, creating awareness and bringing about behavioural changes in people towards adopting healthy and sanitation practices and providing safe drinking water supply. Phase 1 of the mission lasted till 2019 and phase 2(2019 -2025) is being implemented and focuses on sustaining gains of the first phase and improving solid and waste management. Citizens of our country should be aware of the correct methods of waste disposal into different categories so that the safai karam charis/cleanliness workers can easily dispose/recycle the waste. Habit of Recycling and Reusing has to be encouraged. Say no to plastics and instead use paper bags, khadi or jute bags. Abhiyan also includes operation like door to door waste collection and their disposal initiated by municipalities. Every citizen has to be a valuable part of ”vision of Clean India, Dream India.”
Many less developed countries are struggling to provide universal access to safe sanitation, but in the past 5 years, India has almost reached its target of eliminating open defecation. Impact of success of SBM on sanitation reforms has improved the coverage of toilets in rural India from 39% to over 95% of households between 2014 and 2019. In 2017, the national sanitation coverage rose to 65%, from 38.7% on oct2, 2014 before the start of the campaign. It was 90% in August 2018 and now it stands more than 95% .SBM has changed the behaviour of hundreds of millions of people with respect to toilet access and usage. World is amazed that toilets have been provided to more than 600 million people in 60 months (5 years) and, constructing more than 110 million toilets at a projected cost of 1.96 lakh crore. 36 Indian states/UT, 699 districts and 5.99 lakh (5, 99,000) villages were declared open defecation free (ODF) by September, 2019 and hence the mission has largely improved the life style of a common man. No one was ready to believe earlier that India will become open defecation free (ODF) in such a short period of time. Now it is a reality and is a huge achievement. Picking up the broom to clean the dirt, making SBM a mass movement across the country, the Prime Minister said, people should neither litter nor let others to litter. He gave the mantra of’ Na Gandgi Karenge, Na Karne Denge”.
The impact of SBM on development, health and sanitation sector with benefits have yielded good results, as is evident from some reports and surveys (W.H.O., UNICEF). The mission has resulted in an annual profit of Rs 50,000 per house hold in rural India. Within 4 years of campaign number of people defecating in open dropped from 550 million to around 150 million.Detol School hygiene programme in some states has reported 54% increase in the practice of hand washing and reduced diarrhoeal cases by 14%.Number of schools with separate toilets for girls rose from 37% to 91%. After becoming open defecation free, many villages have seen a reduction in the number of deaths due to diseases like diarrhoea, malaria and improvement in child health and nutrition. As per UNICEF study in some states which contributed 90% of open defecation, the Central Government ‘ambitious programme of SBM proved highly cost beneficial related to health, sanitation and property, with annual benefits per house hold mainly from savings associated with health ,such as reduced diarrhoeal incidence (55%,) and from sanitation access time savings (45%).Individual house hold toilets under SBM are becoming essential in reducing exposure to covid and gender based violence. .Further sanitation coverage(toilet constructions) has led to reduction in incidence of sexual assault against women, besides, improved environment, reduced water pollution, increase in property value of having a toilet and personal dignity. Social benefits included physical safety, privacy, comfort, and status. Rewarding benefits of SBM in the long run, would be on tourism, clean technology and foreign direct investment (FDI). Under current economic conditions, India desperately needs FDI. Going by example of Singapore which undertook similar cleanliness drive from 1977 to 1987(10 years drive), it helped Singapore to attract FDI, which transformed it from Developing to Developed nation. We want similar things to happen in India and we are sure that SBM will do similar wonders for India.
Gates Foundation Award to Prime Minister is seen as a big boost to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the 2019 Global Goal Keeper Award for Swachh Bharat Mission from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in New York. The SBM can serve as a model for other countries around the World, said Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prime Minister Narendra modi dedicated this award to 130 crore Indians for transforming SBA into a mass movement and said India is ready to share its expertise and experiences with other nations to improve global Sanitation coverage. Terming it a significant movement to receive the award on the 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi,P.M. Modi ji said, “SBA is a proof that when 1.3 billion Indians take a pledge, any challenge can be overcome”.
SBA is a nationwide campaign and is the longest cleaning drive in the world. We should put our best possible efforts in strengthen Modiji’s mission of Swachh Bharat and make it a mass movement to achieve vision of “Clean India.”
(The author is an Academician and Social and Rights activist)
Prof. P L Kaul