- Telangana to become ODF by April 2018
- The state aims to declare 73 cities ODF by October 2, 2017
- Both in Urban & Rural areas, Telangana's performance is not up to the mark
New Delhi: Three years later after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has taken off across India, Telangana still struggles to get the tag of Open Defecation Free. Till now the state has just been able to move up its sanitation coverage in its urban parts to 43.14% and in its rural areas to 55.39% from 30.83% even after persistent efforts in constructing toilet after toilet in all its regions. Moreover, the capital of the state – Hyderabad, which was declared Open Defecation Free on August 16 this year, that marked a significant success for the urban wing of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in the state is now known for its dirty, unclean, unhygienic public toilets. Non-maintenance of the toilets, along with absence of water in these public toilets is defeating the very purpose for which these were constructed – open defecation.
Telangana has set a target of declaring itself completely ODF by April 2018, whereas it aims to declare all the 73 cities ODF by October 2, 2017. Earlier this year, K.T. Rama Rao, Minister of Municipal Administration and Urban Development set a deadline for the state to declare its 173 towns ODF by August 15, however, Telangana has missed this deadline.
The Swachh Sanitation Report Card
Till date the state in its urban areas has constructed over 68 thousand (68,885) individual toilets, about 900 community toilets and has declared 18 cities open defecation free. Whereas, in its rural areas around 2 thousand villages (2,466) against 10 thousand (10,434), four districts against 31 have been declared ODF.
Road To Swachh Telangana
Many steps have been taken by the state in order to move towards open defecation free, She-Toilet is one such initiative. The toilets have been installed at different places across the city, focussing on public places like bus stops. What’s great is how these toilets function – there is toilet support on-site, waste treatment using advanced systems like anaerobic bio-degradation and it uses less water. Interestingly, the toilet also burns down cloth or sanitary pad dropped in it which helps in avoiding choking of sewer lines. What’s more – these toilets do not even require regular manual cleaning and maintenance as the anaerobic bio-degradation system takes care of all – it converts human waste into bio-gas.
In another step, to improve the sanitation scenario and to make people start using the public toilets, the state has also launched ‘Swachh Shauchalaya’ in its capital city – Hyderabad. Under that, in all the pay-and-use community toilets, a voting machine has been installed so that if the toilet is unclean then people can report it to the authorities simply by pressing the ‘vote’ button.
Apart from improving the sanitation game in the state, in a laudable move, the Telangana government has also introduced 70 Mini Sewer Jetting Machines in Hyderabad to put an end to manual scavenging in the city. The first of its kind initiative in India will make the process of cleaning the clogged sewage lines easier, unlike the conventional machines.
Even after so many steps and initiatives, the ODF scenario shows slow progress for Telangana, as the state’s overall performance in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan report card has not made significant improvements. In the recently held Swachh Survekshan which assessed 434 cities across India, from Telangana there was no city in the first top ten, Hyderabad occupied 22 rank, followed by Warangal (28), Suryapeta (30) and Siddipet was ranked 45.
So, why is Telangana not progressing towards Open Defecation Free state? The reason is even though the construction of toilets is in place, the behavioural change among people is not reflecting. The state is also lagging behind innovative practices like open defecation squads, community engagement programmes to motivate people on using toilets, to name a few, that other states are following in order to achieve the tag of open defecation free. For now, it seems like a long arduous road ahead for Telangana to meet its Swachh goals.