By Anusmita Mazumder, Department of Law, University of Calcutta.

In the wake of the declaration by the Union Ministry of Urban Development of an extensive survey to study the progress of the Swachh Bharat Mission, questions on the actual success of the Mission are being raised across the country. The survey named Swachh Sarvekshan, will be conducted by the Quality Council of India (QCI). It will cover all State Capitals and 53 other cities. Swachh Sarvekshan is being conducted between January 5 and 20, 2016. As the country awaits the result of the survey, let us take a look into a few details of the Mission.

“A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birthday in 2019”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he launched the Swachh Bharat Mission at New Delhi on October 2, 2014. The aim of the Mission is to clean the cities and villages of India. The Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) was appointed as the Mission Coordinator and it comprised of two submissions, the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).

Objectives of the Mission

  • To eradicate the system of open defecation in India.
  • To convert the insanitary toilets into pour flush toilets.
  • To remove the system of manual scavenging.
  • To make people aware of healthy sanitation practices by bringing behavioural changes in people.
  • To link people with the programmes of sanitation and public health in order to generate public awareness.
  • To build up the urban local bodies strong in order to design, execute and operate all systems related to cleanliness.
  • To completely start the scientific processing, disposals reuse and recycling the Municipal Solid Waste.
  • To provide required environment for the private sectors to participate in the Capital Expenditure for all the operations and maintenance costs related to the clean campaign.

Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin)

The Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) involves components like construction of individual household latrines, availability of sufficient fund and sanitation material, micro-financing for the construction, solid and liquid waste management, etc. The implementation of the Scheme requires large scale social mobilizing and as a result a 5-Tier implementation system has been developed at the national, state, district, village and block level. The Gram Panchayats too play a pivotal role in the implementation procedure. To give a boost to the programme, the government has brought it in convergence with the rural housing scheme, Indira Awaas Yojana, and sought financial and technical support from the World Bank, besides asking corporates to undertake the project as part of their corporate social responsibility initiative.

Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban)

The Swachh Bharat Mission of urban areas aims to cover almost 1.04 crore households in order to provide them 2.6 lakhs of public toilets, 2.5 lakhs of community toilets, together with the solid waste management in every town. Community toilets have been planned to be built in the residential areas where availability of individual household toilets is difficult, along with public toilets at designated locations including bus stations, tourist places, railway stations, markets, etc. Cleanliness programme in the urban areas (around 4,401 towns) shall be completed by 2019.

The Year-Long Analysis

The Swachh Bharat Mission completed one year since its declaration in October, 2014. According to the data, a total of 31.83 lakh toilets have been built between April 2014 and January 2015, which is 25.4% of the target for 2014-15. As of May 2015, 14 companies including Tata Consultancy Services, Mahindra Group and Rotary International have pledged to construct 3,195 new toilets. As of the same month, 71 Public Sector Undertakings in India supported the construction of 86,781 new toilets.

Other programmes like Swachh Bharat Run, Swachh Bharat apps, Real-time monitoring system, Swachh Bharat short film by the NIT Rourkela students, Swasth Bharat Nepal Abhiyan and many other similar initiatives have been initiated and implemented to actively support the purpose of the mission. In order to continue and make this campaign successful, Finance Ministry of India has started a programme named Swachh Bharat cess. According to this, everyone has to pay 0.5% more service tax on all the services in India (50 paise per 100 rupees) which will go to this cleanliness campaign.

Many famous personalities of Bollywood, politicians, sports, business industries, etc such as Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, Sachin Tendulkar, Mridula Sinha ji, Anil Ambani, Ramdev Baba, Shashi Tharoor, Kamal Haasan, Priyanka Chopra, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Amit Shah, Salman Khan, the entire team of Taarak Mehta ka Oolta Chashma and many others participated in the campaign and uploaded their pictures on Facebook and Twitter.

However, several instances where the highly-promoted campaign has failed to meet its goals have also been pointed out. To put an end to the open defecation and adopt better solid waste management system, the one-year target for urban areas was to finish constructing 25 lakh individual toilets, 1 lakh community and public toilets, achieve 100 per cent collection and transportation of waste in 1,000 cities and cent per cent processing and disposal of waste in 100 cities. Only 20-25 percent of the target in terms of toilet construction has been achieved while on the garbage management front, the results are even more abysmal. Rankings released earlier show several major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Patna, Lucknow, Jaipur among others fare poorly on the cleanliness scale.

On the rural front, though the numbers look promising, they are not the exact indicator of the success of the Mission. Many of the toilets constructed were under the several ongoing schemes like National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Indira Awaas Yojana. Moreover, the ministries in charge of Defence, Civil Aviation, Human Resource Development, Railways and Health have not reported on the extent of success of the cleanliness drive in the institutions under them.

Even the government realizes that there is a need to do much more. Recently the Urban Development ministry wrote to all States requesting them to levy a user charge to support solid waste management services. It has admitted that inadequate budget of municipalities can derail the Swachh Bharat initiatives in urban areas. Recently, a committee of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has also recommended levying a cess on telecom services, fossil fuels like coal and petrol to garner resources for the campaign.

Conclusion

It is, in my opinion, too early to actually rate the success of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Firstly, it is a Five-Year Plan. The success of the Mission should only be judged at the end of the five years allotted for its completion. Secondly, it is not easy to implement any plan in a country housing 1.252 billion, where one part of the population is aware about the serious health and cultural hazards of filth and dirt, there is still a major part who refuse to change their practices and neglect cleanliness. In the past, we have seen many such initiatives by various governments, for instance, in 1986, under the aegis of Rajiv Gandhi, the Central Rural Sanitation Program was launched and the Complete Sanitation Campaign in 1999 was launched by Atal Bihari Vajpayee but the lack of awareness and commitment shown by the governments and people in general, led to the failure of these initiatives. On the other hand, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been better advertised by means of social media and celebrity involvement. It has infact initiated an era wherein, the citizens of India can be seen making efforts to keep the country clean. The behavioural change in each and every individual along with the transparency of the authorities can make the campaign a true success.