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The government in February launched the second phase of Swachh Bharat Misssion: Grameen which aims mainly on improving the rural Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) with an overall dilution of funds of around One Lakh and Forty thousand Crore. The amount comes partially from Ministry from Drinking Water and Sanitation and from funds allotted to MNREGA and Solid and Liquid Waste Management schemes. With the mission of sustaining the gains of Swachh Bharat Mission-1 and capitalizing on it to improve and enhance the hygiene of the rural India, the scheme will run from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
Significance of this development
The Swachh Bharat Mission-1 ran from 2014-2019 aiming to provide a toilet in every household of India. The government on 2nd October declared that the all 34 States and UTs have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). This achievement is truly commendable considering Rural India’s performance in Sanitation and Hygiene has been abysmal over the 7 decades of Independence. With the aim of sustaining and providing universal access to toilets, the second phase is visioning a ‘behavior chance’ programme with Individual and Rural communities in mind.
Aims and Objectives
The primary aim of the government is to transform districts into ODF-Plus. Ministry of Drinking water and Sanitation defines ODF-Plus as having four important components: ODF-S; Solid Waste Management; Liquid Waste Management; and Faecal Sludge Management. These can be discussed under following headings:
- ODF-S: ODF- Sustainability is really crucial considering that the ODF status of many districts is hanging on a lose end and any trouble or even removal of incentives will sway away the people from using toilets.
- Solid Waste Management: The scheme aims to provide at least 80% of the households with proper mechanism to deal with solid waste coming from agricultural activities and cattle, reducing plastic usage and other tackling other Bio-degradable wastes using compost pits.
- Liquid Waste Management: On a similar ground, govt. aims that 80% of the household use pits and other conservation techniques and segregate the Blackwater that are mixed with the sewage and Greywater that are coming from Kitchens and Bathrooms are can be used again and again.
- Visual Cleanliness: Visual cleanliness implies that around 80% of the rural area have minimal amount of litter, stagnant water and negligible plastic usage.
The prominent features of the scheme are:
- The Scheme will continue to generate employment as a result of construction of several pits and toilets and will give stimulus to rural economy and Infrastructure.
- For sustainability of ODF status, any left-over house or newly built house will be provided with a toilet. Additionally, any retrofitting of already built toilets will be done in case of defects in their structure.
- The new guidelines will also give 12,000 rupees as incentive for BPL, SC/ST, and other marginalized households for construction of toilets.
- Construction of Community Sanitary Complexes (CSCs) is a welcome step and shall consist of an appropriate number of toilet seats, bathing cubicles, washing platforms, wash basins etc. The CSC would be accessible for Divyang-jans.
- The Guidelines also suggest methods for implementation which includes collaborating with other schemes like Gobar-Dhan so that bio waste can be treated properly and can be used extensively as a bio-fuel.
- According to the guidelines, the States and Districts must make use of any technology in hand for the successful treatment of Solid and Liquid Waste.
The scheme provides for a special mechanism of Education, Information and Communication (EIC). This, however, does not suffice to correct what the first phase lacked. According to a data, almost all the northern states though have toilets built but sill people choose to defecate in open. The current phase as well only targets to aware people about the schemes in place and not the overall benefit of maintain hygienic standards. Once the Schemes die, people go back to their normal livings.
Another important still lacking in the scheme is no drawing of nexus between environmental protection and waste management. After the initial building of toilets, many states were ravaged with flood and droughts and this lead to destruction of several structures. In the event of scarcity of water, managing a toilet becomes a huge task and people have no choice other than to defecate in open. This guidelines as well fails to explain how the several compost pits and newly built toilets are going to be sustained and maintained. It doesn’t specify in their awareness programmes about the long term benefits of such changes. Social media and government’s propagation through slogans hardly reach the ground as is thought by this scheme.
The continuance of the Swachh Bharat Mission is a welcome step and considering the achievements it had in the last five years, it can be said that this is the ideal time to capitalize on it and transform the rural India. However, at the other side of the coin, ground reality cannot be ignored and moving forward without making a stringent step to correct the discourse is something that will lead to a dead end. It is important that we move forward with much more decentralization and customization of Health schemes according to a district’s needs.
Author: Mayuresh Kumar from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.
Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India