Open defecation-free country became national slogan in 2014New Delhi: The government, under the aegis of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, undertook a significant journey in 2014 to make the country free from open defecation under an ambitious plan of around Rs
New Delhi: The government, under the aegis of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, undertook a significant journey in 2014 to make the country free from open defecation under an ambitious plan of around Rs 2 lakh crore launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The year gone by also saw the government deciding to implement the rural water supply for Low Income States (RWSSP-LIS) of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh with World Bank assistance over a period of six years (from 2013-14 to 2019-20).
The project is meant for directly benefiting a rural population of about 78 lakh people including 44 lakh Scheduled Castes and more than eight lakh Scheduled Tribes, with improved piped water supply covering approximately 17,400 habitations in 2,150 gram panchayats in 33 districts of the four states.
Wielding the broom himself, Modi launched ‘Clean India' campaign on October 2 and was joined by chief ministers, lawmakers, prominent personalities from various fields along with lakhs of countrymen.
The Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) aims at attaining a 100 per cent open defecation free India by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The main objective of the programme is to bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the rural areas, by promoting cleanliness, hygiene and eliminating open defecation and accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas.
The main activities under the mission are incentives for individual household latrines, construction of community sanitary complexes, solid and liquid waste management projects, information education and communication, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation.
Modi, while launching the programme, asserted that Swachh Bharat mission is “beyond politics” and inspired by “patriotism”. He invoked Gandhi's vision of a “clean and developed” India as he formally kicked off the five-year-long campaign.
The tech-savvy Modi even launched his own version of ALS ice bucket challenge, nominating nine eminent personalities including Sachin Tendulkar, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, industrialist Anil Ambani along with several actors like Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Kamal Hassan to spread awareness on the issue and asked them to continue the chain. They accepted the challenge participating in cleanliness drive in their areas.
The ministry also launched a nationwide realtime monitoring of use of toilets from today. The monitoring system was unveiled to give a big push to Swachh Bharat Mission. People across the country will be mobilised to check and verify the use of toilets in the rural areas through mobile phones, tablets or iPads and upload the same in case of any discrepancy on the ministry's website in tune with online citizen monitoring.
Earlier, the monitoring was done only about the construction of toilets, but now the actual use of toilets will be ascertained on a sustained basis.
Moreover, in order to implement the Swachh Bharat Mission in a mission mode, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is being strengthened.
Around two dozen additional staff including two joint secretaries, 4 directors and their subordinate staff will soon be appointed for effective implementation and monitoring of Swachh Bharat goals.
An expert committee will also be set up to examine the innovative technologies for toilets and solid and liquid waste management while a national telephonic helpline will be installed for rural water supply and sanitation.
The Government has announced that Rs 20 lakh per annum will be allocated to each village panchayat for the Clean India campaign.
Jairam Ramesh, who had vigorously pushed a mission to eradicate the menace of open defecation during his stint as Sanitation Minister in the UPA government, termed ‘Swachh Bharat' campaign as a positive step but could turn a topic for jokes if real work was not done.
He said that he felt that till now the campaign has been more about “slogans and photo-ops”.
According to a parliamentary panel report tabled in the Lok Sabha recently, the practice of open defecation in India is due to combination of factors, the most prominent of them being the traditional behavioural pattern and lack of awareness of people about the associated health hazards.
In its report on Drinking Water and Sanitation, the Standing Committee on Rural Development even noted the fact that sanitation is mainly a mindset issue based on socio-cultural issues and habit.