Sanitation in India

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    In News

    • The President of India participated in the event organised by the Ministry of Jal Shakti to celebrate Swachh Bharat Diwas (October 2, 2022). 

    Key Points

    • Achieved SDG6: 
      • Through this mission, India has achieved the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number-6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 11 years before the deadline of 2030.
    • Building More Toilets: 
      • Since the launch of ‘Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin’ in 2014, more than 11 crore toilets have been constructed and about 60 crore people have changed their habit of open defecation. 
    • Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin Phase-II:
      • The Government of India is implementing the second phase of ‘Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin’, which aims to make all 6 lakh villages of the country ODF Plus
      • Since the beginning of the second phase of ‘Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin’, more than 1.16 lakh villages have declared themselves as ODF Plus and the work of solid and liquid waste management has also started in about three lakh villages.
    •  Quality Drinking Water:
      • Along with cleanliness, the Government of India is also working on the goal of providing quality drinking water to every household. 
      • The ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ has set the target of providing regular and quality drinking water to every household by the year 2024.
      • At the time of the launch of Jal Jeevan Mission in 2019, only 3.23 crore rural households had tap water supply, which has reached to about 10.27 crore in the past three years.

    What is ODF+ and ODF++?

    • ODF+ and ODF++ are aimed towards proper maintenance of toilet facilities and safe collection, conveyance, treatment/disposal of all faecal sludge and sewage. While ODF+ focuses on toilets with water, maintenance and hygiene, ODF++ focuses on toilets with sludge and septage management.

    Significance of Sanitation

    • Avoids Pandemic: During the Covid pandemic, everyone realised that toilets, the habit of washing hands with soap, and water supply through taps have acted as a shield against the pandemic.
    • Declining Diseases: The ODF as well as access to tap water has led to a significant reduction in water-borne diseases in recent years. 
    • Healthy India: More concerted efforts can fulfill India’s resolve to build a healthy, clean and self-reliant India. 
    • Setting Global Example: India needs to set an example for the world in the field of water management and sanitation.

    Challenges

    • Sludge Management: There is a time bomb of rural and small town faecal sludge management as tanks and single pits fill up and are difficult to empty.
    • Manual Scavenging: Despite a ban on manual scavenging, it continues at various places in the country.
    • Modern Technologies: In achieving this goal, India will face huge challenges as providing basic facilities to such a large population will require modern technology and abundant resources. 
    • Maintaining ODF status: It is important after a village, block or district is declared ODF. Generally, it so happens that once it is declared, there is no pressure on the district administration to do any activity because the goal has been achieved. Also, many people would tend to return to the old practice of open defecation.
    • Inclusion of Public: The massive task is to include people who still lack toilets, overcome partial toilet use, and retrofit toilets which are not yet sustainably safe.
    • Usage-related Challenges: Tackling cultural and mind-set issues, providing water in rural areas, addressing the problem of small and dingy toilets, stigma associated with pit-emptying, and making-men use toilets.
    • Open Water Bodies: Another problem is the presence of open ponds (water pools) in rural and semi-urban areas along road corridors. The ponds are used by people, livestock for various purposes. The poor quality of water in the ponds gives rise to diseases.

    Way Ahead

    • Waste Disposal:
      • Proper facilities for disposal of excreta should be created. People begin to use toilets but the faecal material goes untreated which harms the environment.
    • Converting Waste: 
      • Defining and implementing solutions to convert waste to achieve a remunerative return will not only create hygienic surroundings for the communities but would allow them to become economically self-sufficient in the medium to long term. 
    • Role of Trained Workforce:
      • For behavioural change of the society, a trained workforce is needed that can trigger communities. 
      • This involves taking the community through a participatory process of self-analysis where people are informed about the ill effects of inadequate sanitation.
    • Reusing Water: 
      • Recovery of precious grey water through minimal treatment and treatment of sewage will help tackle scarce water resources, encouraging reuse and conserving water bodies.
    • Partnerships at Village Level:
      • The corporates could team up with the village communities to convert their waste to wealth by utilising simple and cost-effective technologies that can be managed by them independently in the long run.
      • Building the capacity of the gram panchayats in understanding how to manage the various programmes.
      • Managing household and plastic waste as well as wastewater at a village level.
    • Establishing Interlinkages: 
      • The government needs to focus on the thematic interlinkages between WASH and sectors such as health, education, gender, nutrition and livelihoods. 

    Source: IE