- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the budget 2021 today
- The budget stressed on the importance of having access to sanitation
- The budget allocated Rs 1.41 lakh crore for Swachh Bharat Urban this year
New Delhi: With one of the pillars of the budget focusing on health and well-being, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today (February 1) highlighted the importance of having access to clean water and sanitation along with a cleaner environment. Unveiling Swachh Bharat 2.0, Ms Sitharaman stressed on further strengthening of the ‘swachhata’ (cleanliness) campaign of urban India and allocated the budget of Rs 1.41 lakh crore, which will be implemented over five years from 2021. She said,
“The government intends to focus on complete faecal sludge management and wastewater treatment, source segregation of garbage, reduction in single-use plastic. Reduction in air pollution, especially waste from construction and demolition, and bio-remediation of dumpsites.”
Last year, Rs. 9,994 crores were allocated for Swachh Bharat Mission Rural and Rs. 2,300 crores for Swachh Bharat Mission Urban, with a total allocation of Rs. 12,294 crores for the campaign.
Ms Sitharaman further announced the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission Urban with an outlay of ₹ 2.87 lakh crores for five years and said,
As the World Health Organisation has repeatedly stressed the importance of clean water, sanitation, and a clean environment as a prerequisite to achieving universal health, the Jal Jeevan mission aims at better water supply across the country.
She said that 4,378 urban local bodies would be benefited, and liquid waste management would be carried out across 500 AMRUT cities.
NDTV speaks to industry experts and environmentalists to know their views on the budget allocation for the flagship sanitation programme – Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Welcoming the budget for Swachh Bharat Mission, Professor Meera Mehta, Member National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Alliance (NFSSM) and Executive Director of the Center for Water and Sanitation, said,
COVID-19 has truly highlighted the importance of safe and efficient sanitation and we are happy to see the Budget 2021 take cognizance of the pertinent linkage between universal water and sanitation and universal health. The Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban outlay of Rs. 1,41,678 crore for a period of five years demonstrates an answer to “Toilet ke baad kya?
Ms Mehta further added that now India will see a nationwide effort towards complete Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (adoption of NFSSM Policy, 2017). She added,
ODF to ODF + and ODF++ − source segregation of garbage, reduction of air pollution, reduction in single use plastics, dealing with waste from construction and demolition activities and bio-remediation of all legacy waste dump sites – directly impacts the environment. With the budget like this taking in consideration all these areas is definitely a welcoming move. Also, the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission (wastewater management) with Rs. 2.87 lakh crore will catalyse the movement towards achieving SDG 6 by 2030.
Swati Sambyal, Independent Waste Management Expert also welcomed the budget allocation for Swachh Bharat Mission but raised questions on implementation and funds utilisation part. She said,
Urban Swachh Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 will be implemented with total allocation of 1,41,678 crores over 5 years focusing on complete faecal sludge management, wastewater treatment, segregation, urban construction and bioremediation of legacy dump sites. This is welcoming considering last year only 12,294 crores were allotted for swachh bharat mission. However, how much would be utilised this year would be interesting to know as during COVID-19 waste management has been a huge area of concern. Cities need to not only invest in sustainable systems for managing waste but also need to have systems in place for managing COVID-19 waste. We also need to tackle increase in our waste generation. It is great there is emphasis on source segregation, effective management and landfill remediation. But, in a scenario like ours, where land is a precious resource, we cannot waste it on having more dumpsites or landfills. We need to come up with a concrete plan and start switching to circular perspectives and resource efficient solutions.
Tagging the Budget 2021 as a game changer for Swachh Bharat Mission, Professor V. Srinivas Chary, Director, Centre for Energy, Environment, Urban Governance and Infrastructure Development at Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) added,
Budget 2021 has laid the foundation for focusing on waste management and swachhata in the urban areas, it was much needed. Urban sanitation and swachhata needed utmost attention. COVID has exposed very clearly the urban challenges both from density and health point of view, urban areas are at a greater risk and therefore I think it has got adequate attention in thIs budget.
He further said that now the attention needs to be given at the implementation part and further strengthening our institutional reforms at the state and municipal level in order to fully utilise the budget allocations.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.