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One lakh villages will become ODF on 2nd October, 2016: Tomar

New Delhi: Two years ago, the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2nd, 2014, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The Mission was divided into two parts – urban and rural. While the Swachh Bharat Mission Urban is managed by the Ministry of Urban Development, the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (Rural) is led by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. Here are some of the highlights of progressof SBM Gramin in the last two years: 

Taking stock of 2 years of the Mission

  • The Rural household toilet coverage has increased from 42% at the start of Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin to 55.34%as of today.
  • This entailed the construction of 2.4 crore toilets under SBM and 15.04 lakh under MNREGA.
  • In the first year alone, there was an increase of 446% in construction of toilets after the launch of SBM(G) as compared to pre-SBM period of 2014-15.
  • 35 districts and about one lakhvillages are targeted to be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF)by October 2, 2016.
  • On the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi tomorrow,the district of his birth, Porbandar, is also poised to become ODF. Additionally, 9more districts are likely to be declared ODF on the same day.
  • It is worth notingthat self-declaration of ODF by a village or districts themselves is not treated as final. Third party verifiers are being engaged to validate the self-declaration of ODF.
  • The success of the Mission is having a very real and measurable impact on health and mortality, especially in children in Rural India.
  • The ‘Swachh Survekshan’, a nationwide survey in 75 districts, conducted earlier this year, has created a sense of healthy competition among districts to achieve ‘Swachhta’.

Swachh Bharat is becoming a ‘Jan Andolan’

  • This is the biggest mass mobilization in history – the focus is on behavior change rather than on toilet construction because SBM is about the change of mindset.
  • Women, children, members of the third gender, senior citizens and specially abled citizens have particularly been taking the lead as sanitation champions and galvanizing their communities to make their villages ODF.
  • Cross-benefits of Community mobilization due to SBM: InSawamahu Gram Panchayat in Punjab, during routine cleaning of villages, women found that a big component of garbage was empty liquor bottles, leading to them starting adaru-bandi(no alcohol) campaign. They also learnt the use of internet and WhatsApp to share their activities with one another.
  • Shri Chandrakant Kulkarni, a retired government employee from Maharashtra, has donated one-third of his pension to the Swachh Bharat Kosh.
  • A team of brave army personnel, led by Wing Commander Paramvir Singh undertook a ‘Ganga Avahan’ for the cause of Swachh Bharat. The expedition swam 2800 km along the length of River Ganga, from Devprayag (Uttarakhand) to Ganga Sagar (West Bengal), to spread awareness about the Swachh Bharat Mission.

Swachh Bharat and Mass Media

  • It is encouraging to know that some media houses have started dedicated campaigns for Swachh Bharat. There is immense potential for media to play a pivotal role in ensuring ‘A Clean India’.
  • This Ministry has also launched a campaign against open defecation in rural areas with Shri Amitabh Bachchan and Shri Sachin Tendulkar as brand ambassadors.
  • The reach and proved efficacy of ‘Radio’ will be leveraged to the fullest for influencing behavior change in the days to come.

Beyond ODF: Focus on Solid and Liquid Waste Management in villages

  • Mahila mandals of Mandi district of Himachal Pradeshtook up the work of weekly cleaning of their villages. This became a good source of income for many as they sold one lakh kg of scrap worth about Rs.5 lakh from February 2015 to August 2016.
  • In Indore, the famous Khajrana Ganesha temple receives more than 100 kg of green waste in the form of flower offerings every day. These flowers are converted into compost using on-site facilities. The same compost is being purchased by the devotees and locals.
  • In Tamil Nadu, nearly 53056 MGNREGA workers are engaged in solid waste work in 9000 Gram Panchayats. Through sale of compost and recyclable waste, the Panchayats have generated a total income of Rs. 75.41 lakh.
  • Several villages in Nanded district in Maharashtra are “mosquito free” owing to the presence of individual soak pits called “magic pits” in every household. This helps them not only avoid water-borne diseases like diarrhea, cholera and jaundice due to reduced ground and surface water contamination, but also vector borne diseases like dengue, malaria and the dreaded zika virus.
  • Waste stabilization ponds have not only helped control the problem of safely draining out liquid waste in villages, but many of these ponds have been converted into beautified spots which have now become the pride of their villages.

Economic benefits of sanitation and SLWM

  • Lack of proper sanitation leads to a less healthy and less productive population, leading to economic loss. A World Bank study estimates that the resulting loss to the Indian economy is 6.4% of the GDP because of poor sanitation. According to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, India would save $19 billion worth of health care costs if everyone started washing their hands with soap before meals and after defecation.
  • We have seen this happen in our experiences at ODF villages in the last two years.
  • Bhusrapara village in Malda district, West Bengal has 14 households, without any toilets. The villagers regularly contracted diarrhea in the monsoons, the time when they got employment as agriculture labor. The village became ODF on 15th July 2015, after which there has been only one case of diarrhea in the village. The villagers estimate that they have saved between Rs.1800-Rs.3000 per person per year.
  • Since becoming ODF, Saragaon village in Raipur district of Chhattisgarh has recorded a reduction in loss of man-days from 83 per year earlier to 11 now. The average yearly health expenditure in the village has reduced by 85%. Increasing demand for toilets leads to increasing demand for masonry services. Nadia, the first ODF district in West Bengal set up two masonry training institutes which trained around 2400 men and women to construct toilets and became a source of livelihood.

Leveraging Technology to achieve scale

  • The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has started organizing virtual classroomsacross the country to build capacities of district officials and members of the rural community to trigger behaviour change in their villages. This initiative has helped achieve scale in capacity building an efficient and economical manner and has helped spread best practices rapidly across the country.
  • The Swachh App for mobile devices across Android, Apple and Windows phones has been very popular and useful to make the details of the progress of SBM-G readily accessible for all in real time. 

Challenges

  • Importance of sustaining ODF and preventing slip-backs – This is very critical and there needs to be sustained efforts to ensure that once a village turns ODF, it stays ODF. The district administration must focus on continued awareness campaigns and sanitation champions must continue mobilizing people to highlight the importance of toilet usage even after attaining ODF status.
  • Aiming for ODF+ (ODF Plus) : ODF Villagesneed to include SLWM and general cleanliness as the ultimate goal to become truly “Swachh”. 

Road ahead

  • Looking ahead, many States are on the verge of becoming ODF – Gujarat, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Mizoram are likely to achieve ODF status for all rural areas in their state by 31st March 2017
  • Technology will need to be leveraged in terms of SLWM and sanitation solutions.Technology for information sharing and dissemination to enable learning from and implementing the best practices across the country by administration, institutions and individuals and will be a key focus area in the times to come.
  • Convergence of all government programs will be required for Swachhta and sanitation
  • The government is providing more flexibility and enhanced scale of finance to help districts become ODF at the earliest.
  • 100 iconic placesidentified across the country – with 10 being cleaned up in Phase 1 – will be made Swachh as per international standards.

Performance is on track to meet the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin targets well before 2ndOctober 2019.

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