The Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan launched by Prime Minister Modi on Gandhi Jayanti in 2014 seems to have hit roadblock as far as the national capital is concerned. According to the latest Comptroller and Auditor General report that was tabled on April 3, the Delhi Government despite having Rs 40.31 crore and 30 months at disposal failed to construct even a single toilet under Swachh Bharat Mission. This seems all the more ironical given the fact that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) stood for the welfare and well-being of the common man and yet could not provide for as basic an amenity as a toilet.
The report, tabled in the State Assembly, observed that Rs 40.31 crore comprising of Central share of Rs 30.23 crore and State share of Rs 10.08 crore was released to the implementing agencies in January 2016 for the construction of household toilets, community toilets and public toilets. But all those funds allocated for this purpose now remain idle in banks.
According to the CAG report, the Delhi Government did not give adequate importance to the implementation of the mission despite the Economic Survey of Delhi, 2016-17 revealing that 350,000 households in Delhi (about 10.5 per cent of all households) do not have toilet facility and 22 per cent slums lack toilet facility.
The AAP, in its manifesto had promised to construct 200,000 toilet blocks in slums/JJ clusters and unauthorised colonies. However, post the formation of the Government, when a high-powered committee requested the Government to identify the sites and blocks for constructions, the latter assessed that the Capital would need to construct only 11,117 household toilets, 25,097 community toilets (including 16,050 for slums and JJs) and 605 public toilets under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan by October 2019. This marked a major departure from the details published in the manifesto.
The problem got further exacerbated due to the south and north Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMCs) not considering unauthorised colonies for projecting requirement of individual household toilets. This was due to the fact that municipal corporations did not have jurisdiction over them. This left unauthorised colonies effectively out of the mission coverage with regard to household toilets.
The Delhi Government's inability to target individual households for the construction of household toilets and to identify sites and blocks for construction of community toilets and public toilets, and ignoring the toilet requirements in unauthorised colonies shows its deficient concern for public convenience facilities.
The problems pertaining to Swachh Bharat Mission in Delhi also got compounded due to the lack of awareness levels. The CAG audit report also observed in this regard that a total of only Rs 2.03 crore was spent on public awareness programme against Rs 5.17 crore released. East Delhi Municipal Corporation and Delhi Cantonment Board spent Rs 2.3 million and five million rupees against Rs 18.6 million and Rs 2.7 million released to them by the Delhi Government. The disregard for spreading awareness has meant that the public were unable to take benefit of a convenience for which they had funds allocated.
The United Nations report on water access and sanitation in India states that 564 million of the country's people still defecated in the open. The UN report further states that 65,000 tonnes of uncovered, untreated faeces equal to the weight of around 180 Airbus A380s were being introduced into the environment in India every single day. Thanks to the lack of toilets and toilet hygiene. With staggering statistics such as these, it is painful to note that funds for preventing the same are lying unused.
Apart from the Government inability, there is also another factor in getting all of India's households and communities to use latrines, and to take collective responsibility for their upkeep. Many of the current practices responsible for the abysmal state of sanitation in the country are rooted in traditional notions of purity and hygiene often the same ones that normalise the allocation of sanitation work to the oppressed castes. Transforming sanitation in India will require a large-scale change in these beliefs, yet here again the Swachh Bharat Mission is faltering.
The stakes are high especially for human health and this reflects in India's sanitation crisis, which has huge costs. The UN estimates that around 117,000 of the deaths of Indian children under the age of five are being caused by diarrhoea, the incidence of which correlates closely with the quality of sanitation in an area. This means that 10 per cent of all deaths under the age of five in the country are due to this is among the highest proportions of anywhere in the world. India needs to urgently script success story that leaps over these hurdles and lends action to the noble initiative of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Failing The Capital On Swachh Mission - It is distressing that ever since its launch, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has failed the people in the Capital as much of the allocated funds remain unutilised for more info visit : http://www.dailypioneer.com/