Related Topics: Universal Sanitation, Swachch Bharath Abhiyan
Why in News?
- On the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, PM Narendra Modi has declared the country open defecation-free, claiming success for the government’s initiative under which every household now apparently has access to a toilet.
ODF Free India
- In the past five years, the Indian government has built more than 100 million toilets.
- This implies that it constructed 38 toilets every minute that had passed since the Swachh Bharat Mission was launched.
- A UNICEF estimate cited that “there is a positive impact, worth Rs 20 lakh crore, on the Indian economy due to the Swachh Bharat campaign. It has created opportunities of 75 lakh jobs out of which a majority have been availed by the rural population”.
- One independent survey reported that toilets are not used by up to half the population in some places.
- Thus, an ODF-Plus programme has been adopted by the Ministry of Jal Shakti to encourage toilet use and create the infrastructure to manage solid and liquid waste in every village.
- The Central government can hope to achieve sustainable outcomes only if it prioritises citizen rights and community participation.
- The campaign has erred in its approach in many instances, opting for coercive methods that produce dreadful consequences.
- This bears mention in the context of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and its efforts to end open defecation, since officials and campaigners have resorted to violence, public shaming and the threat of deprivation of welfare benefits to bring about compliance.
- Such methods must be ended immediately and voluntary participation must be encouraged.
- The declaration of India as open defecation free as a gift to Gandhi is a great achievement. But we must not forget that there are still miles to go.
- India needs to have a sanitation policy that focuses on reducing open defecation.
- 10 Year Rural Sanitation Strategy (2019-2029), launched by the government for sustaining the sanitation behavior change that has been achieved under the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) is aright step in this direction.