By YKA Staff:
On October 2, 2014, Prime Minister Modi announced the Swachh Bharat Mission after a meticulously managed and well-promoted campaign. As part of the mission, he promised to provide every household with a toilet and to eradicate open defecation from the country by 2019. Ensuing publicity saw celebrities, ministers and high-ranking officials, sweeping the streets with big brooms, smiling widely for the press.
The initiative has received a resounding approval and appreciation from most quarters and is being hailed as the flagship program of the current NDA government. The recently announced Union Budget of 2016-17 has allotted a massive sum of Rs. 9,000 crore to the mission, reinforcing the commitment of the government to make this Mission a success.
But does this ‘Swachh Bharat’ only stop at creating toilets, or is there a lot more that needs to be done and thought about?
The lack of toilets is but one facet of the big hygiene and sanitation crisis that India faces today. The lack of access to clean drinking water, the lack of awareness of proper hygiene practices, lack of efficient solid waste and garbage disposal system, the perpetuation of old and degrading practices like manual scavenging, among others, make the dream of a ‘Swachh Bharat’ much more difficult to achieve than the government and the country can fathom at the moment.
Even though the Mission lists “to effect behavioural change” and “to eradicate manual scavenging” in its key objectives, the statistics and reports clearly reflect that very little is being done to actually put these into effect.
A big concern that the Mission at present misses out on is the issue of clean drinking water. According to a World Bank report, 1600 people die daily in India due to diarrhoea, which is caused by the consumption of contaminated water. This figure is enough to state the gravity and the urgency of the situation. A large number of people, both in urban and rural areas, lack access to clean drinking water and make do with water they can find closer to their homes. This puts them in grave danger of falling prey to severe health related issues.
The dream and ambition of a ‘Swachh Bharat’ can’t be achieved till a larger, holistic vision is adopted and every aspect of the sanitation crisis addressed.
Share this ahead if you believe that access to safe drinking water should be a bigger issue under the Swachh Bharat Mission.