As the nation celebrates Gandhi Jayanti by paying homage to the father of the nation, this year’s Gandhi Jayanti also marks the first anniversary of Prime Minister Modi’s much talked about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Celebrity endorsements and ministers sweeping the streets alongside the PM marked the launch of the mission. Massive awareness campaigns were launched with fanfare.
A year later, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is still making announcements, allocating funds and recording fresh anthems, but how far has the initiative been successful in bringing visible change to the everyday lives of the people?
95.23 lakh toilets built in rural India, against a target of 12 crore which is to be achieved by 2019.
Although the government has announced allocation of Rs 1.96 Lakh crore to build 13.04 crore toilets, only Rs 5000 crore has been allocated and 95.23 lakh toilets have been built. These 95.23 lakh include 43.81 lakh which were built between April to October 2014.
Out of 1.42 lakh tonnes of garbage generated in urban regions every day, only 15% is being processed.
Despite the allocation of Rs 62000 crore to ensure cleanliness in 4041 towns, the scheme seems to have had negligible impact in urban areas. Regular garbage collection and disposal are yet to show any significant improvement.
Out of 170 crore allocated to I&B; Ministry for awareness campaign, 94 crores has been spent.
The awareness campaign by the I&B; Ministry included promotion by celebrity brand ambassadors nominated by the prime minister along with advertisements and an anthem recorded by Kailash Kher which was penned by Prasoon Joshi. The new anthem is sung by Sachin Tendulkar and Babul Supriyo. Personalities like Mary Kom, Sashi Tharoor and Salman Khan have also lent support to Swachh Bharat.
Punjab is on it’s way to become the first open defecation free state in India
The Punjab government in June declared that it is moving forward to achieving zero open defecation, with 75% of the rural population having access to toilets. The remaining 25% rural population will get access to sanitation by October 2017.
Corporate giants including L&T;, DLF and Coca Cola are contributing to the Swach Bharat Abhiyan
Well known brands like Coca Cola, Dabur, Infosys and Toyota have committed funds to the cleanliness mission. The government in the 2015 budget announced that contributions to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will be considered as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure. Fast Track also spread the word through the “dump them and move on” campaign.
Mysore ranked as the cleanest city in India while Damoh in Madhya Pradesh is the dirtiest
South India has emerged as significantly cleaner with most cities of Karnataka making it to the top 10 in the Swachh Bharat rankings. North India remains the dirtiest even as Modi’s constituency Varanasi ranks very low in cleanliness.
Toilets increasing but the prevalent mindset stands in the way of ending open defecation
Despite construction of toilets in rural areas benefiting women, a large part of the rural population defecate in the open. In addition to the mindset, there is a concern among the rural population about the open pit toilets filling up, and the question of manual scavenging which has not been addressed.
Mission to clean the Ganga showing slow progress with funds lying unused.
As of May 2015, the initiative for purifying the polluted Ganges river was yet to take off. The Supreme Court slammed the sluggish pace with which the project seems to be moving forward.
Not enough quantitative data to get an accurate idea about the success of Swachh Bharat
While funds have been allocated and awareness campaigns have been conducted to promote a cleaner India, the administration has done little more than ranking the cities to gauge the effect. No surveys or studies have been conducted on the ground by the government, and hence no statistics is available to see how successful the mission has been.
Although, the government has been able to achieve some success in its flagship mission, there has been little change on the ground. While the government might be held responsible for minimal effect, it is the lack of change in the society’s mindset which has always been an obstacle for India becoming cleaner.