Budget 2015: Sanitation and the Swachh Bharat Mission

Despite India’s multi-decade battle to eliminate open defecation, toilets are absent in 69% of rural India (Census 2011).

Rural sanitation is primarily funded by the Union Government. The state governments and beneficiaries contribute towards construction and maintenance of toilets as well.

Rs. 6,244 Crores has been allocated to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) for FY 2015-16. The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) has been assigned Rs. 3,625 Crores, a 27% hike compared to FY 2014-15.

The Accountability Initiative’s budget analysis presents the facts and trends in budgetary allocation over the past years in a concise manner. Here are some of the key points from their Budget brief on the SBM (Gramin).

Allocations for rural sanitation on the rise: From Rs. 1,500 crore in FY 2011-12, allocation for rural sanitation has gone up by 53% to Rs. 2,300 crore in FY 2013-14. Rs. 3,625 crore has been set aside for the SBM from the overall Rs. 6,244 Crores allotted to the MDWS.

Allocation increased; spending decreased?: Though large sums of money were allocated to the states for implementing sanitation related programmes, a lot of money remained unspent. The reason cited is the delay in the release of funds from the Centre. In FY 2013-14, 30% of the funds were released in the last month of the financial year; as a result, states were able to spend only 45% of the funds available to them. As of February 2015, only 35% of the funds allocated for sanitation programmes were spent by the state governments.

Variations in fund release: Variations are observed in the timing of fund release across states. While some states received funds as early as the first quarter of the financial year, many had to wait as long as the third and fourth quarters.

  • Find release quicker in Gujarat – all monies received before last quarter in FY 2013-14.
  • While Karnataka and Arunachal Pradesh had to wait till the last quarter for receipt of any fund from the Centre in FY 2012-13, the situation improved in 2013-14 where only 48 and 77 percent of their total releases in the last quarter .
  • Assam, Mizoram and Manipur are yet to receive funds in FY 2014-15.

Variations in spending: While state level differences exist, the overall performance of the country as a whole is not completely satisfactory. States had spent only 45% of funds available to them in FY 2013-14. As of February 2015, the figure stood at 35% for the current fiscal.

  • In FY 2013-14, Uttarakhand spent 69% of the funds available to it. In contrast, Odisha utilized only 11% of the available monies.
  • Kartanaka’s performance has increased compared to the previous years where the state has spent 92% of the funds available for sanitation as of February 2015. The state had spent 65% of the available funds in FY 2013-14. A similar trend was observed in Sikkim as well.

Activities under the Swachh Bharat Mission: While constructing toilets in individual households and schools are major activities under the SBM, several critical exercises precede construction. This includes preparatory ground work such as need assessments and communications campaigns to motivate users. It does not come entirely as a surprise that a bulk of the funds is spent on constructing these structures while demand generation and motivation are left in the lurch.

  • Constructing anganwadi, schools and individual household toilets account for over 90% of the total SBM expenditure for FY 2014-15.
  • Only 5% of the total allocation has been spent on IEC activities in FY 2014-15, compared to the paltry figure of 8% in FY 2013-14.

Factors determining how States spend their money are varied. Construction of individual household toilets constituted 93% of Uttar Pradesh’s total expenditure, a logical extension to its abysmal rural sanitation record in Census 2011. Mizoram spent just 19% of its funds on household toilet construction as the state is one of the better performers when it comes to rural sanitation.

Information, education and communication: While state level variations remain, IEC spending has been very low all along since the Total Sanitation Campaign of the 90s. Latest SBM guidelines specify an allocation of 8% of the total SBM budget. Though IEC is not top priority in many places, it most certainly is a worthy candidate.

  • Interest in eliminating open defecation has sparked a debate on behaviour change and heightened emphasis on strong IEC campaigns.
  • Trend analysis points out to the fact that the North-Eastern states spend the most on IEC compared to the rest of India with the exception of Kerala.
  • While states like Meghalaya and Kerala have spent over 100% of their IEC budgets, states with low toilet coverage, like Odisha and Bihar have been spending very little on IEC.

Swachh Vidyalaya: Along with the SBM, the Centre launched the Swchh  Vidyalaya initiative to construct toilets in schools lacking them in addition to renovating existing dysfunctional toilets. As of February 2015, funds have been generated for 84,619 toilets out of the estimated total of 2.57 lakh.

You can download Accountability Initiative’s budget brief from the link below.

Check out more social sector budget briefs from Accountability Initiative here.