Swachh Bharat 2.0: Moving forward together

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As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, there is a lot to be said for the progress the country has made in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on sanitation.

The concept of sanitation in the Indian context has existed since the Indus Valley Civilization. However, until 2014, sanitation coverage in India was only 39%. About 55 million people in rural areas did not have a toilet before 2014, which seriously affected the health and dignity of our people, especially women and children. The biggest and perhaps most significant impact of poor sanitation is on health. Exposure to contaminated drinking water and food containing pathogen-laden human waste is a major cause of diarrhea and can cause cholera, trachoma, intestinal worms, etc., resulting in “delayed growth” of huge sections of our children. Poor hygiene and waste management practices also impact the environment, with untreated sewage flowing directly into water bodies and affecting coastal and marine ecosystems, contaminating soil and air. and exposing millions to disease.

Finally, poor sanitary practices have a negative impact on the economy. A World Bank study indicates that the lack of toilets and conventional sanitation cost India 6.4% of its GDP in 2006. The economic impact of poor sanitation for India is at minus 38.5 billion dollars per year for health, education, access time and tourism. .

The launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) by the Prime Minister on October 2, 2014 had a single objective: to achieve universal health coverage and make the country free of open defecation (ODF). By providing financial incentives for the construction of family toilets, as well as community toilets for slums and migrant populations, the government has given a huge boost to toilet infrastructure. To bring about changes to the age-old idea that home toilets are filthy, the government has launched several programs with the participation of the private sector and NGOs to educate the population on the benefits of ODF in what is acclaimed as l one of the greatest behaviors. changing programs around the world. From 2014 to 2020, more than 10 crores of toilets have been built. The country declared itself ODF on October 2, 2019.

The second phase of the project, which began in 2020 and is expected to run until 2025, has set even more ambitious goals – to support the achievements of phase 1 and ensure that liquid and solid waste treatment is achieved through the technology assistance and private sector involvement.

The Flagship Initiative (LHI) commissioned by the Ministry of Water and Sanitation under the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is to be implemented through a PPP, in panchayat villages of 75 grams in 15 states in Phase 1. LHI is based on the principle of inclusive sanitation and leaves no one behind. LHI aims to effectively implement solid and liquid waste management structures using a participatory and consultative approach through the mobilization of village communities, businesses, district and block administrations and gram panchayat officers. Joint ownership and responsibility between local governments, communities and businesses will ensure the success of the initiative.

Managing household and plastic waste as well as sewage at the village level, defining and implementing waste recovery solutions to obtain a remunerative return not only creates a hygienic environment for communities but enables them to become economically self-sufficient in the medium and long term. Additionally, reclaiming valuable gray water through minimal treatment and wastewater treatment helps address scarce water resources, encouraging reuse and conserving water bodies.

The companies’ ability to team up with village communities to convert their waste into wealth using simple, cost-effective technologies that they can manage independently over the long term, as well as their ability to help build the capacity of the gram panchayats to understanding how to manage different programs are areas where PPPs can excel.

The India Sanitation Coalition (ISC) is a multi-stakeholder platform that creates meaningful collaborations. These stakeholders include the private sector, government, financial institutions, civil society groups, media, donors, etc. .

By choosing to partner with ISC on the LHI initiative and the first group of companies that came forward such as ITC, Jindal Steel and Power, JSW, Nayara, HCL and foundations such as Ambuja Cement, Tata Trusts and Aga Khan Trust, the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation has recognized the benefits of working with the private sector. Understanding the on-the-ground need for solid and liquid waste management infrastructure, he included activities such as the construction of cesspools, waste stabilization ponds, drainage channels, compost pits, storage sheds, collection and separation and biogas plants under the Rs1,40,881 crore to be provided over the next five years. The private sector will complement this with CSR funding.

Going forward, the ISC will continue to focus on the government’s position on the thematic linkages between WASH and sectors such as health, education, gender, nutrition and livelihoods. This will include both urban and rural challenges and create viable programs where government funding will be used primarily for infrastructure construction and the private sector will come in as a strategic partner providing management and technology expertise. These successful “flagship” collaborations will be documented and disseminated to enable replication across the country, holding the promise of advancing the remarkable success of the first phase of SBM.

The author is Chairman, India Sanitation Coalition

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