Friday, May 27, 2022

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Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: Assessing the impact

Prime Minister Narendra Modi sweeping the floors was a sight many mocked at, questioning the intention of an idea that aimed at taking forward the dream of Mahatma Gandhi – a clean India! The idea was in the form of an initiative, Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan and the goal was a healthier and cleaner environment.

Initially, when the Abhiyaan was launched, in 2014, people hesitated to believe in the initiative. Seven years later, India is open defecation-free, homes have toilets, houses have access to clean and drinkable water and our cities are getting cleaner each day.

Impact 1: Clean Cities

Under the Swachh Bharat initiative, massive door-to-door garbage collection and disposal activities were initiated. This helped in addressing the problem of garbage disposal. According to the Swachh Survekshan, an annual survey of cleanliness, hygiene, and sanitation in cities and towns across India, Indore is the cleanest city in India for the fifth time in a row.

The success of Indore means other cities in the country are on the path of cleaner India too. Following Indore are Surat, Vijaywada, Navi Mumbai, and more. In 2020, Vijaywada occupied 6th place and moved up the list to 3rd place in 2021.

The nationwide month-long Clean India Drive, organized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports in October 2021, aimed at collecting 75 lakh kgs of plastic and waste. In the first 10 days of the campaign, over 30 lakh kgs of waste were collected across the nation. Furthermore, the concept of waste to wealth is being promoted.

At present, according to the Swachh Bharat portal, the mission has seen participation from 51,344 people, 6,106 pakhwada activities have been undertaken, and more. The impact of the Abhiyan has been manifold- social, economic, and environmental.

Impact 2: Free of open defecation

According to the Ministry of Jal Shakti, under Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) [SBM(G)], all the 6,03,175 villages in the country have declared themselves Open Defecation Free (ODF) as of October 2, 2019. For this, over 100 million toilets were constructed in rural India. Further, the Government has advised all the States to ensure that none is left behind under SBM(G).

All urban local bodies have also been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) and 70% of solid waste is now being processed scientifically.

Impact 3: Toilets in every household

Under SBM(G), 10.24 crore individual household latrines (IHHLs) were constructed from October 2, 2014, to December 31, 2019. The Government has approved Phase-II of SBM(G) for the period from 2020-21 to 2024-25, with the focus on ODF sustainability by providing access to toilets facilities to the newly emerging eligible rural households of the country and Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) in the villages.

Impact 4: Social Upliftment

In addition to clean and hygienic surroundings, the mission has also empowered and brought respect to the people involved in the process. In Paradeep, Odisha, transgenders and rag pickers have been actively involved in the waste management system. Be it the Prime Minister washing the feats of sanitation workers or employing rag pickers and transgenders, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has given new respect to the people, something which was missing earlier.

Present Scenario

Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 (SBM-U 2.0) has been launched with the mission to make all the cities ‘Garbage Free’ and ensure grey and black water management in all cities other than those covered under AMRUT. Further, it aims to make all urban local bodies as ODF+ and those with a population of less than 1 lakh as ODF++, thereby achieving the vision of safe sanitation in urban areas.

The focus of the mission – source segregation of solid waste (being undertaken in Indore), utilizing the principles of 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), scientific processing of all types of municipal solid waste, and remediation of legacy dumpsites for effective solid waste management.

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is like a cycle, that connects every piece and its impact can be seen on rivers, households, the environment, and people’s life.

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