Swachh Bharat Mission and Its Survekshan
The need for maintaining cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation in any community cannot be argued with. It is perhaps the most basic and pivotal step toward keeping diseases away. The fact that 13% of deaths of children under the age of five, in India, are a result of diarrheal diseases alone substantiates this. It is, therefore, imperative and urgent to have sanitation and hygiene intact, both at a personal as well as community level in order to improve the health of the masses across the country. Apart from the disease-prevention, the lack of cleanliness also affects the tourism industry which further affects the economic development of the country as a whole.
To promote a healthy maintenance of cleanliness, the government rolled its flagship scheme, the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), on the October 2, 2014. The programme began by covering approximately 4041 statutory towns of the country, to clean their roads, streets and other public infrastructure.
The campaign garnered full support from the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Border Security Forces, media houses, various civil society organisations and also, a number of citizens across the nation. As a matter of fact, SBM has been dubbed as the country’s biggest cleanliness drive ever. It has also helped the government to boost its revenue system.
According to an RTI filed by Twocircles.net, the 0.5% of Swachh Bharat Cess over and above the 14% service tax collected since the 15th of November, 2015 has aided the government in collecting a sum of Rs. 9851.41 crores till October 26, 2016 since its inception.
A good two years after the onset of the campaign, in an effort to encourage improved sanitation and cleanliness standards and to transform SBM into a ‘Jan Andolan’ or mass movement, the government initiated a survey, by the name of Swachh Survekshan 2017 from the January 4, to rank 500 cities and towns across the country on the levels of cleanliness and sanitation and the effort made by respective urban and rural bodies towards it.
Conducted by the Quality Council of India, the survey will judge cities and towns on the basis of figures provided by Municipal bodies, the data collected through direct observations and independent assessment and citizen feedbacks.
Last year’s Swachh Survekshan 2016 ranked 73 cities across the country and about 1 lakh citizens gave their feedback.
This year, a web portal called the ‘Swachhata App’ and ‘Swachhata Helpline 1969’ have also been introduced to enable citizens associate more and more with SBM on an individual level.
Citizens can post photos of unhygienic places in urban areas on the Swachh App and they will be informed of the action taken by the respective urban local bodies in a specific time period.
Using the toll-free Helpline Number 1969, citizens can seek information about the ways to participate in the cleanliness mission and can also enquire the status of their applications for construction of toilets in both, urban as well as rural areas.
One of the paramount measures taken by the survey and also a major objective of the SBM, is to get all the towns and villages to become ‘open defecation free (ODF)’ which is meant to be achieved by 2019.
Any region which has a sufficient number of household, community and public toilets is said to be open defecation free. The prime goal of the scheme is to improve the level of cleanliness through proper Solid and Liquid Waste Management, by ensuring usage and construction of toilets, particularly in the rural areas.
Stressing on the need for behavioural change in favour of using toilets, an ‘Asli Tarakki’ (real development) campaign has also been launched highlighting the need for construction of toilets and using them well.
This campaign to be mounted on TV channels and in print media soon brings out that having two wheelers, air coolers, TV sets etc., is not ‘Asli Tarakki’ if such people either do not have toilets or don’t use them well.
Uttarakhand too, is trying to get the ODF status by 2018 itself.
Chief Minister, Harish Rawat, has said that the state’s 4,331 villages, 48 blocks and five districts (Bageshwar, Champawat, Nainital, Rudraprayag and Udham Singh Nagar) have already been declared ODF, while works in the remaining areas is on the verge of completion.
The Swachh BharatMission data states that nearly 59% villages have achieved the ODF status while about 96% households in the state have constructed toilets.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, which has been assigned the implementation of SBM across the nation says that so far 3,41,036 toilets have been constructed in the state and close to 2 crores and thirty-five lakhs in the country under the drive.
As per the current Swachh BharatMission (Rural) rankings, Uttarakhand stood fourth following Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Sikkim, which have already achieved the ODF status.
The ranking has not only sensitised the states on the basis of their respective performances but also instilled a sense of positive competition among them, laying a foundation to a better and cleaner India right down to the rural level.
Concurrently, on a broader note, SBM is helping India toward attaining the Millennium Development Goals, 2015 provided by the United Nations.
Under Clause 7, sub-clause 7C, of the Millennium Development Goals which demands the lessening of population by fifty percent without the sustainable access to improved water sources for drinking water and improved sanitation for an individual, India has made some significant progress after the introduction by SBM.
The stats reveal the progress and fruition of SBM so far, besides pushing and encouraging people to be a part of the campaign, and thus improving the level of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation all over. It allows an individual to understand the progress they have made and what needs to be incorporated further to achieve complete cleanliness, including attaining the ODF status for their state.
It intends to spark a participatory and reform-driven process, as effective reforms always involve sustained processes and require benchmarking, consultation and sharing of information.
On a long journey toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals, 100% ODF states and a Swachh Bharat, the Swachh Survekshan could turn out to be a small but vital step in the right direction.