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Chapter # 20. Swash Bharat Mission


The key objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission include:

1. Making India Open Defecation Free (ODF) by October 2, 2019.

2. Carrying out extensive information, education and communication (IEC) and behaviour change campaigns to change the attitude of people regarding healthy sanitation practices.

3. Ensuring scientific solid and liquid waste management.

4. Augmenting the capacity of local bodies.

5. Creating an enabling environment for private sector participation.

6. Eradicating manual scavenging.

Current Situation

The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched on October 2, 2014, to make India open defecation free by 2019. It has two sub missions –1) Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) for rural areas under the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) and 2) Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) for urban areas under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Given the cross cutting impact of SBM, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is the nodal ministry for SBM with several other ministries being actively involved in achieving its goals. SBM has the potential to address wide-ranging issues.

For instance, water and sanitation related diseases continue to remain among the major causes of death among children under five years of age. In India, the under-five mortality rate is 50 per thousand live births as compared to the global average of 41. The lack of sanitation facilities leads to groundwater contamination and pathogen contamination leads to diarrhoeal diseases, resulting in malnutrition, stunting and death.

Women, who do not have access to toilets, mostly relieve themselves under the cover of darkness, i.e., before dawn or after sunset. Such practices are not only a threat to their physical security but are also a cause of various diseases.

Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin)

According to Census 2011, only 32.7 per cent of rural households had access to toilet facilities. Only 39 per cent of households had access to toilets before the launch of the Mission. Under the Mission, from October 2, 2014 to March 2018, about 6.95 crore individual household toilets have been constructed. The rapid pace of construction of toilets is due to mass mobilization of resources and extensive behaviour change campaigns under the mission. It has helped the country achieve sanitation coverage of 81 per cent in rural India by March 2018. About 3.50 lakh villages, 371 districts and 13 states and 3 union territories have declared themselves ODF.

Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban)

As of March 2018, 47.04 lakh household toilets and 3.18 lakh seats of community/public toilets have been constructed against the mission targets of 66.42 lakh and 5.08 lakh respectively. Hundred per cent door-to-door collection of solid waste has been achieved in 62,436 out of 84,049 wards and 2,648 cities have declared themselves ODF. Waste-to-energy production has reached 88.4 megawatts and new plants that can produce 415 megawatts are under construction.


The constraints faced by the mission are largely related to implementation challenges in meeting the 2019 targets. Some of these are as follows:

1. Lack of availability of space for construction of household toilets in slum areas.

2. Issues regarding the operation and maintenance of community toilets.

3. Non-availability of water.

4. Non-segregation of waste.

5. Sustaining the change in behaviour patterns among people.

6. Continued unwillingness of urban local bodies (ULBs) to levy user charges.

7. Inadequate infrastructure for collection, transportation and processing of segregated waste.

8. The continuing practice of decentralized treatment of waste.

9. Lack of on-site treatment of waste by bulk generators.

10. Insufficient number of dustbins, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas.

11. Lack of credit from financial institutions for solid and liquid waste management projects.

12. Discharge of untreated effluent into rivers.

13. Tackling the problem of lagging states – of the 1.56 crore household toilets yet to be constructed in rural areas, 0.90 crore are to be constructed in two states, namely Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Way Forward

The strategies to tackle the challenges faced by SBM have been categorized under four broad heads – expanding the scope of SBM, inducing behavioural change, expediting construction and leveraging technology, and changing governance and practices. These are detailed below.

Expanding the scope of Sbm

1. The concept of Swachhata needs to be integrated into hospitals, government offices and other public establishments.

2. Where space is a constraint, construct community toilets with participation and ownership of stakeholders. The responsibility for operation and maintenance of community toilets should vest with the community.

3. To ensure continued usage of toilets and limit water used for flushing, rural toilets with steep slope should be widely promoted in rural areas.

4. Bulk generators of waste should ensure on-site treatment of waste.

5. All drains/tributaries flowing to rivers should be covered with sewage treatment plants by 2022-23.

6. Give higher monetary compensation and social security to rag pickers and small sanitation workers for segregating waste. This will help waste-to-energy plants as well as projects related to dry waste management and help reduce the burden on landfills.

7. The scope of SBM may be expanded to cover initiatives for landfills and plastic waste.

8. Increase the number of community toilets along the highways.

Inducing behavioural change

1. Plan intensive behaviour change communication (BCC) and inter-personal communication (IPC) campaigns beyond the SBM target year of 2019.

2. Draw up a clear and concerted behaviour change communication campaign specifically aimed at panchayats and cities that have shown slow progress towards ODF status.

3. Teach them young – Children should be made aware of sustainable waste management practices through suitable changes in the school syllabus; engage college campuses and teachers to spread awareness of these practices.

4. BCC should lay greater emphasis on encouraging people to segregate waste into wet, dry and hazardous waste right at the point of waste generation.

5. Promote disposal of kitchen and home waste at the local level through resident welfare associations. A decentralized system of disposal of waste needs to be in place, especially in urban areas.

Expediting construction and leveraging technology

1. To reduce the cost and time incurred on laying sewage pipelines and constructing sewage treatment plants, SBM should encourage the use of bio-digester technology.

2. A special strategy should be adopted to expedite the construction of household toilets in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

3. Adopt the wider use of twin-pit toilets. It is a low-cost technology that decomposes waste into bio-fertilizer.

4. Promote the use of modular wet waste disposal machines or other such devices for the disposal of bio-waste at the household level itself.

5. The cement and construction sectors should be encouraged to consume material made of recycled construction and demolition (C&D) waste. Similarly, the fertilizer sector should procure compost produced out of organic waste.

6. Ensure the availability of adequate numbers of dustbins in public spaces in urban and peri-urban areas.

Changing governance and practices

1. Expenditure on bio-toilets/bio-digesters may be considered for concession from the goods and services tax (GST) to encourage large-scale adoption.

2. Draft and implement a 5-year action plan to integrate SBM and faecal sludge management (FSM) at the ward level in cities.

3. Waste-to-energy projects are not bankable in the absence of tariff orders by the appropriate authority. Companies that want to establish waste-to-energy plants should have tripartite agreements in which one party is the producer of energy from waste; the other two should be the concerned municipal body and electricity distributing company.

4. ULBs should be nudged to charge adequate user charges for collection and disposal of waste and maintenance of toilets. The user charges for these activities are as important as user charges for electricity and water.

5. Solid and liquid waste management projects should be covered under priority sector lending.

6. To maintain the ODF status of villages and cities, the government should continue to monitor and undertake corrective measures for areas that might be slipping back from ODF status.

NITI AYOG - New India @ 75

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