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| Last Updated:08/11/2014

Latest News(Archive)

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Beyond brooms and toilets, 06 November 2014


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) has an extraordinary mandate—getting nearly 600 million Indians who currently defecate in the open to use toilets. SBA’s inordinate focus on toilet construction, however, is baffling. It means that the government has not fully grasped the nature of the sanitation problem for what it is. Indeed, if Modi is to achieve his ambitious goal of an open defecation free India by 2019, we will need to treble the rate of decline in open defecation in the next five years. To this end, the government must be willing to learn from past failures and tailor its policy to address attitudes that make open defecation such an obdurate problem. It will simply not do to implement half-baked, poorly conceived schemes.


What is it then that we need beyond broom-wielding photo-ops and exhorting the countrymen to pledge to make Mother India clean? Let us see how the current sanitation policy stacks up against the evidence. SBA is a big ticket on the public exchequer. Its five-year budgetary allocation stands at Rs.2 trillion with Rs.1.34 trillion dedicated to rural sanitation. This is a significant leap from past programmes and the government has done well to increase the overall budgetary envelope. However, it has not been especially perspicacious in planning fund use. As much as 92% of the proposed Rs.1.34 trillion rural sanitation tab is devoted to toilet construction, with a measly 8% set aside for the critical information, education and communication component targeted at encouraging toilet use and changing sanitation behaviour. Read more....