Despite increased toilet construction, open defecation lives on in rural India
Government data reveals that spending on the Swachh Bharat-Gramin initiative has not yielded results as expected. Despite the construction of 3.8 crore household toilets since the programme’s inception, open defecation continues in most parts of rural India. In addition, the problem of dysfunctional toilets, which in turn pushes people towards defecating in the open, is also turning out to be a huge nuisance for the authorities. Government spending on the mission has increased more than three-fold since 2014-15 with Rs. 13,948 crore allocated for the rural sanitation mission in 2017-18.
Toilets absent in over one crore households: Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation
Going by statistics from the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA), over 1 crore households across the country’s urban pockets lack toilet facilities. 31.14 lakh individual toilets have been constructed under the Swachh Bharat – Urban mission in addition to 1.15 lakh community and public toilets across urban India. An estimated 7.8 crore households are present across the country’s urban areas out of which close to 13 percent have been found to lack basic sanitation arrangements.
Donations to Swachh Bharat Kosh continue to dwindle
Since its inception in 2014, donations made towards the sanitation corpus or the Swachh Bharat Kosh have been found to dwindle. The corpus was set up to give an impetus to the Union government’s toilet building drive under the Swachh Bharat Mission. In the financial year 2016-17, around Rs 245 crore was deposited in the Kosh by public sector units and private businesses. The inability to influence how their money is spent if they contribute less than 10 crore rupees, is suspected as one of the main reasons for the dwindling inflow from the private sector. The induction of the Swachh Bharat cess has been cited as another crucial reason for diminishing inflows.
Five districts in Karnataka declared open defecation free
The Union government has declared five districts in Karnataka - Bengaluru Urban and Rural, Udupi, Kodagu, and Dakshina Kannada – as being free from open defecation. Sakleshpur and Alur taluks in Hassan district have been declared as open defecation free too. The state government is confident of achieving the target of eliminating open defecation from the state by December 2017, much ahead of its earlier target of October 2018 as 71 percent of the construction target has already been met.
Trichy Corporation to excavate and process solid waste lying in landfills
The Tiruchirapalli Corporation has decided to excavate solid waste lying in landfills for decades, in a process termed as bio-mining, to get convert unprocessed non-biodegradable waste into refuse-derived fuel. 469 tonnes of waste generated on a daily basis gets dumped in the Ariyamangalam landfill site which has been in use for over four decades. The city corporation has taken up composting of wet waste in the last two years, but the persistence of non-biodegradable waste from years ago has been deemed as the main cause for serious soil and groundwater pollution in the area. The process of bio-mining has yielded positive results in the past, especially in Chennai. The corporation is awaiting the state’s nod to go ahead with the exercise.
This is a roundup of important sanitation related news published between April 15 and 21, 2016.