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Swachh Bharat: a progress report

Our official media partner, Asian Ceramics (www.asianceramics.com) looks at how India’s ambitious sanitaryware construction and installation programme is succeeding after being heralded with much fanfare just nine months ago...

The Swachh Bharat Mission of the NDA Government is picking up momentum in urban areas during the first three months of the current fiscal (2015-16).
According to an official statement,applications have been received from states and union territories for construction of 30,41,097 individual household toilets, as against the target of construction of one crore such toilets by the year 2019.

The Ministry of Urban Development has sanctioned 13,64,814 toilets.Regarding construction of over 5 lakh community and public toilet seats, the Ministry has sanctioned 82,438. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission in urban areas, 17,411 community and public toilet seats have been built during April-June, 2015 as against 1,222 during October-March of the last financial year.

During the said period, 1,13,000 individual household toilets have been constructed as against 2.70 lakhs built during the six months of last financial year. Since the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission in October last year, a total of 3.83 lakh individual household toilets and 17,411 community and public toilets have been constructed. In respect of Solid Waste Management, 28,908 wards out of the total of 78,003 wards in all the States/UTs have reported 100 percent door to door collection of solid waste.

About 21 percent of municipal solid waste is being processed as against the target of 44 percent for March,2016. Regarding construction of individual household toilets, Gujarat is way ahead of others having built 2,64,331 followed by Madhya Pradesh with 99,151.

These two states together account for 94 percent of the total toilets built till the end of June,2015. These are followed by Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra.

Delhi leads the list of performers in respect of community and public toilets having constructed 5,776 toilet seats followed by Chattisgarh (3,570), Maharashtra (2,520), Chandigarh (2,424) and Karnataka (1,680). These five accounted for 86 percent of total number of community and public toilet seats constructed so far.
Tamil Nadu is way ahead of others in Solid Waste Management with 9,935 wards out of the total of 13,667 wards reporting 100 percent door to door collection of waste. It is followed by Karnataka(3962/5252), MP(3024/6855), Andhra Pradesh(2295/3276), and Gujarat(1506/1730).

In all, Gujarat, MP, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana are at the forefront of implementing Swachh Bharat Mission in urban areas. The Ministry of Urban Development is constantly monitoring the programme having held three video-conferences with States/UTs last month.

A-P performs

The State government has decided to construct one lakh individual household latrines (IHHL) in each of 13 districts in 100 days under the sanitation programme taken up under the ‘Swacha Andhra’ programme this year.

The construction would take off once the ongoing baseline survey and sanction of toilets to identified beneficiaries were completed. Under the programme Rs.15,000 would be sanctioned for each IHHL unit of which Centre’s share would be Rs.9,000 and the State’s, Rs.6,000. The government proposed to spend Rs. 720 crore as its share on 13 lakh individual household toilets, said Mr. B.Ramanjaneyulu , Commissioner, Panchayat Raj and Rural Development here on Tuesday.

Addressing media persons, he said that he had accompanied Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao to Singapore from June 18 to 22 to interact with the Singapore based World Toilet Organisation Chairman Jack Sim and study the best practices adopted by the organisation in providing quality toilets for the rural poor in 142 countries. Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu who is the national convenor of Swach Bharat sought Mr.Jack Sim’s guidance for making Andhra Pradesh open defecation free State in the next three years. Mr.Jack Sim and Mr.Sivaprasada Rao are also the co-convenors of the Swach AP programme, he said.

Punjab succeeds

Punjab water supply and sanitation minister Surjit Singh Rakhra has said that the government was strengthening its drive to provide sanitation facilities to all villages. He claimed that government looked forward to ensuring 100% toilet access by 2017.

He expressed these views during an awareness seminar on Clean India Mission (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan) at the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College.

He claimed that the state government had constructed toilets for 6.25 lakh rural families under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which has set the elimination of open defecation as one of its objectives. He said that only 37% houses in villages have a water supply connection and remaining households should also apply. He added free water connections will be provided to all houses under various water schemes of the state government.

Deputy commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said the administration had identified 12,570 houses which do not have toilets in the district.
"The government will provide a grant of Rs 15000 to each of these houses to construct toilet, which will collectively would cost around Rs 20 crore to the government. The grant would be provided in two installments of Rs 6,000 and Rs 9,000 each," he added. During the seminar, Rakhra urged the women to come forward and resolve to ensure a Clean India.
"Woman have great power. They must come forward to help ensure that India and Punjab is clean," he said. He added that awareness campaigns were also being run by the district administration to make people aware about the harmful effects of open defecation.
He said in order to maintain transparency in the execution of the project, directions have been issued to click the photographs of each phase of construction of toilets in all houses.

Budget concerns

The finance ministry is expected to step up the allocation for drinking water and sanitation (DWS) ministry, entrusted with implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).
Sources indicated that the allocation will be enhanced by more than three times from the current level of Rs 5,500 crore following a strong pitch made by the DWS ministry. The enhancement may take place in the first supplementary demand for grants, which is expected to be tabled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during the monsoon session of Parliament.

Following the recommendations of the 14th finance commission, the ministry has seen a sharp reduction in allocation from over Rs 15,000 crore in the budget estimates for the last fiscal year to around Rs 5,500 crore this year. When the DWS ministry had put up a strong case for an increase, the finance ministry had argued that the funds would be spent directly by the states. But intervention at the top level has resulted in a rethink by the finance ministry. A section in the government believes that given the importance of Swachh Bharat in the scheme of things, the Centre should take a lead in spending.

"An increase will enable us to undertake the programme of building more toilets and to provide clean and safe drinking water," a source in the DWS ministry argued.
Sources said the drinking water and sanitation minister Birender Singh had taken it up with the finance ministry and even a parliamentary committee had recorded its concern over reduction in budgetary allocation. The panel had observed that it would have an adverse impact on the two schemes. Ministry sources said MPs cutting across party lines had objected to less central allocation.

However, the government had maintained that there was no reduction in allocation for any scheme as share of states in Central taxes has increased to 42% from 32% under the 14th Finance Commission. Even Singh had told this paper that funding won't be an issue in implementing the schemes since higher devolution of finances to state governments would mean panchayats would get Rs 2 lakh crore. He had said even the smallest panchayat would get about Rs 17 lakh in the next five years and this fund can be utilized for these schemes.

A chequered outlook

However, it’s not all plain sailing. For example many are asking if Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan is actually becoming collateral damage of the spike in Maoist insurgency? The pace of building toilets, key to ending the problem of open defecation, is slower in Naxal insurgency affected states.
A senior government official said that toilet construction activities are not progressing at the desired pace in Naxal-affected areas. According to government officials, state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) is constructing toilets under the Clean India Mission in coal-bearing areas.

Many of India’s coal mines are located in remote forests populated by tribals. Poverty, illiteracy and exploitation of labour are rife in these areas which form the pocketboroughs of Naxals. Money from illegal coal mining also fuels Maoist insurgency in these areas. The Naxal insurgency is particularly strong in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
“There would be problems in Maoist-affected areas. We are trying to do whatever we can,” said Anil Swarup, India’s coal secretary.

The Swachh Bharat mission is among the pet projects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi under which it targets to construct 60 million toilets. Of this, 5 million were built in 2014-15.
Commitments have also been made by other public sector units and private sector firms such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd, the philanthropy arm of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Ambuja Cements Ltd. The public and private sector have pledged to build 100,000 toilets.

Higher revenue to states may help contain the Maoist armed insurgency. The finances of coal-bearing states are expected to improve, with six coal rich states of Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh set to reap Rs.3.35 trillion from coal-field auctions through upfront payments, revenue and royalty. Also, more money may accrue from a possible auction of coal linkages through which projects get assured supply of fuel at a discounted price.

“My understanding of the Naxal issue is that as development happens in the area and more and more people get employed, the incidents of Naxalism will come down. As you have more and more development, extremism takes a beating,” Swarup had earlier told Mint.
Many firms operating in the region pay off the Naxals as it is a way of life for companies that had to set up businesses in Naxal-or terrorism-affected areas.
Mint reported on 28 September 2011 about an official of the Ruias-led Essar Group who was arrested for allegedly paying protection money to Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. Essar Group had denied the allegations.

Donations made to the Swachh Bharat Mission were made eligible for deduction under the Income-tax Act in this year’s budget. In September 2014, the cabinet committee on economic affairs approved the Swachh Bharat mission that was officially launched on 2 October 2014 for a period of five years. Initially, it will be implemented in 4,041 towns. The total cost of the campaign will be Rs.62,009 crore, of which the Union government will contribute Rs.14, 620 crore. The rest will be mobilized from other sources, including non-state entities.