The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the mission to clean India’s cities and villages is no doubt one of the most ambitious initiatives in recent times to make the country on par with developed countries in respect of sanitation, hygiene and environment friendly, the main pillars of public health. The mission has been welcomed by the nation at large. However the success of the mission depends on a voluntary change in the mindset of the country’s public of this country having diverse cultures and habits.
On October 2, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a mission to clean India’s cities and villages. The campaign, inaugurated to coincide with Gandhi Jayanti, aims to realise its vision of ‘Clean India’ by October 2, 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
In the months after it was launched, the campaign gained momentum with many celebrities, politicians and academic institutions organising cleanliness drives across the country. As a reminder of how seriously his government takes this mission, the prime minister brought up the issue during his Independence Day speech as well, talking about inadequate number of public toilet facilities.
The program plans to construct 12 crore toilets in rural India by October 2019, at a projected cost of Rs 1.96 lakh crore (US$29 billion). A total of 31.83 lakh toilets were built between April 2014 and January 2015 under this campaign, which is 25.4% of the target for 2014-15.
The Swachh Bharat national campaign, which will run till October 2, 2019, aims to eliminate open defecation by constructing toilets for households, communities, eradicate manual scavenging, introduce modern and scientific municipal solid waste management practices, enable private sector participation in the sanitation sector and change people’s attitudes to sanitation and create awareness.
Swachh Bharat Mission envisages an investment of Rs 620.09 billion (US$9.1 billion), of which Rs 146.23 billion (US$2.2 billion) will be provided by the Centre. The rest is expected to be raised by states, urban local bodies, and from private players. For FY 2015-16, the Government has allocated Rs 36.25 billion (US$530 million) for Swachh Bharat Mission, an increase of 27% over the previous financial year.
For funding the mission, a Swachh Bharat Cess has been imposed on Service Tax at the rate of 0.5% since 15 November 2015. The programme has also received funding and technical support from the World Bank, corporations as part of corporate social responsibility initiatives, and by state governments under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan schemes.
(Read the full article in the March Issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2016)