OPEN DEFECATION-FREE INDIA
Context: The latest National Statistical Office (NSO) survey on sanitation debunked the claims of an open defecation-free or ODF India made by the Centre’s flagship Swachh Bharat scheme.
- The survey showed that about 71% of rural households had access to toilets at a time the Centre was claiming 95%.
- On October 2, 2019,Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared that the whole country was ODF with complete access to toilets.
KEY FINDINGS OF THE SURVEY
- The 71% access to toilets is still a significant improvement over the situation in the last survey period in 2012, when only 40% of rural households had access to toilets.
- The NSO’s statistics on toilet usage are also encouraging. It said 95% of people with access to toilets in rural India used them regularly, indicating that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s efforts to change behavior have borne fruit.
- Only 3.5% of those with toilet access in rural India said that they never used them.
- This was aided by the fact that water was available around the toilet in more than 95% of cases.
- More than 50% of rural Indian households with toilets had septic tanks, while another 21% used single pits, both of which need to be cleaned and produce faecal sludge that must be disposed of safely.
- Only 10% of toilets were built with the twin leach pit system pushed by the Swachh Bharat scheme, which safely composts waste on its own without any need for cleaning or disposal.
SWACHH BHARAT MISSION
- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s (SBA) or Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is a nation-wide campaign in India for the period 2014 to 2019 that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India’s cities, towns, urban and rural areas.
- The objectives of Swachh Bharat include eliminatingopen defecation through the construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets and establishing an accountable mechanism of monitoring toilet use.
- Run by theGovernment of India, the mission aims to achieve an “open-defecation free” (ODF) India by 2 October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 100 million toilets in rural India
- The mission will also contribute to India reachingSustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), established by the UN in 2015.
- The mission has two thrusts: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (“gramin” or ‘rural’), which operates under the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation; and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (‘urban’), which operates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
ODF STATUS TO KARNATAKA.
- Karnataka was declared the 26th Open Defecation-Free (ODF) state in the country on 1st November 2018.
- But declaring Karnataka to be an ODF state did not mean that all rural people are using toilets to defecate or that defecation in the open is not happening anymore.
- An ODF state simply means that toilets have been built for all rural households. People may or may not be using them.
- Also, at least some of the newly-built toilets exist only on paper.
- Many people prefer defecating or urinating in the open because available toilets are filthy and unusable.
- This underscores the need for the government to provide running water in toilets that are being built.
- The situation in urban Karnataka is distressing. A survey of Bengaluru conducted by the non-profit Janaagraha last year found that the city was short by 1,100 public toilet complexes.
- Those that exist are rarely cleaned, don’t have doors or water, and stink.
- Apparently, only 10% of public toilets for men and 6% of them for women have flushes that work. Toilets are not provided with dustbins or washbasins and commodes are broken. This is the situation in pay-and-use toilets being run by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike.
Though Karnataka has made significant progress in terms of number of toilets built, we need to get people start using them which is the biggest challenge ahead.