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India@70: The First Year Of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan Saw Significant Number Of Toilets Built In Rural India

The first year of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan saw the unveiling of a nationwide sanitation plan, invitations to states and private organisations for financial participation and speedy construction of toilets in rural India

Highlights
  • The programme was launched on October 2, 2014 with a target date of 2019
  • States and private organisations were asked to contribute to the mission
  • A large number of rural toilets were built in the first six months

On October 2, 2014, on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a nationwide sanitation programme which aimed to eradicate open defecation by 2019. The programme’s aim of eradicating open defecation was complemented by other goals such as scientific disposal of solid waste across the country, eradication of manual scavenging and creating awareness among people on sanitation.

Working towards an open defecation free India does not come at a low cost and the incomplete success of previous sanitation missions meant that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan could not afford to compromise on budgetary allocations.

Here are some of the key highlights of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan Year One:

  1. Objectives Split Under Two Ministries | The objectives of the Mission were split under two ministries from the very beginning. Swachh Bharat Gramin, headed by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation was responsible for rural India. Swachh Bharat Urban, under the Ministry of Urban Development was responsible for implementing the programme across cities and towns.
  2. The Huge Budget Required | The estimated cost of the programme was pegged at Rs 2,23,692 crore, out of which the Centre’s share was an estimated 14,623 crore. The rest were to be borne by the states, private companies through corporate social responsibility (CSR), the then existent Swachh Bharat cess and the donation gateway Swachh Bharat Kosh.
  3. Expenditure To Improve Rural Sanitation | Between October 2014 and March 2015, Rs 2,647 crore was spent by the Union government to improve rural sanitation.
  4. Significant Number Of Toilets Built In Rural India | The number of toilets built in the first year of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in rural India stood at over 49 lakhs (49,06,830).
  5. No Visible Improvement In Urban Sanitation | Under Swachh Bharat (Urban), however no individual household toilets were built between October 2014 and March 2015. The reason behind the non-performance of the urban wing of the programme were manifold, but the primary reasons cited were faulty applications by a majority of applicants who had revamped existing toilets and applied for the reimbursement amount of Rs 4,000. There was also severe lack of awareness among people, which resulted their non-understanding of the application process.

The first year of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan saw more than 4 million toilets built within the first six months. The call for building toilets was answered well by rural India and within the first six months, we witnessed a number of constructions. The construction spree was unprecedented. However, there was no monitoring of behavioural change as soon as the programme began, so how effectively these toilets were being used or not, could only be determined when monitored properly, which took place later, said Avinash Kumar, Director, Water Aid India.

The first six months of the programme were more successful for the programme’s rural wing. The number of toilets constructed within just six months was similar to the 1986 Central Rural Sanitation Programme. The non-performance of the urban wing however, remained a pressing matter of concern.

Also Read: Rural Sanitation Has Risen To 66%, A Healthy Tradition Has Begun: Prime Minister Narendra Modi                         

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