Sustaining the status the next big challenge
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, 2019 declared that India was now open-defecation free (ODF) and cited it as a global benchmark.
Addressing 20,000 Panchayat representatives at the Sabarmati riverfront on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary, he called the Swachh Bharat Mission an outstanding example of participatory approach and transformative development.
The programme was initiated on the same day four years ago when toilet coverage in the country was 39 per cent. The programme was driven by collaboration and convergence.
Construction of toilets improve the socio-economic and health status of people. The impact of SBM was highly visible, Modi said.
According to him, the first step of toilet construction was achieved ; through constant communication and information, a behavioural change was to be brought about so that people are motivated to ensure usage of the toilets. The next step was to regularise usage and ensure the behavioural change.
A total Rs 3.5 lakh crore was allocated under Jal Shakti Mission dedicated for water sustainability. If people adopt the principles of water recycling and water recharge, it would help achieve sustainable water connectivity and availability to toilets ensuring constant usage, Modi added.
The focus now has to be on ther management of solid and liquid waste, faecal sludge and sustain ODF. The government has already declared a 10-year strategy, focused on access to sanitation through incentives for households and community sanitation complex, standardised pit-emptying, water supply (including cleaning of water bodies) and appropriate sanitation information.
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