Rural sanitation did not feature on the investment horizon during the first five plan periods as reflected in its negligible funding share. However, it received prominence from the Sixth Plan (1980-85) onwards amid the launch of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation decade in 1980, says the 51st Report of Standing Committee on Rural Development related to the status of Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin. India’s first nationwide programme for rural sanitation, the Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP), was launched in 1986, in the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) with the objective of improving the quality of life of rural people and to provide privacy and dignity to women. The programme provided large subsidy for construction of sanitary latrines for BPL households.
The Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), was launched with effect from 1st April, 1999 following a ‘community led’ and ‘people centered’ approach. The TSC moved away from the principle of state-wise allocation to a “demand-driven” approach. The programme laid emphasis on Information, Education and Communication (IEC) for generation of effective demand for sanitation facilities. It also laid emphasis on school sanitation and hygiene education for bringing about attitudinal and behavioral changes for adoption of hygienic practices from an early age.
In order to encourage the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to take up sanitation promotion, the incentive award scheme of Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) was launched in 2005. The award was given to those PRIs which attained 100 percent open defecation free environment. This award publicized the sanitation programme significantly across the country.
Encouraged by the initial success of NGP, and looking into the need to upscale sanitation interventions, the TSC was revamped as the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) in 2012, with the objective to accelerate the sanitation coverage in rural areas so as to comprehensively cover rural population through renewed strategies and saturation approach and also to transform rural India into Nirmal Bharat.
In order to significantly upscale the programme, and bring the nation's focus on the issue of sanitation, the Government of India had launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) viz. SMB (G) on 2nd October, 2014 to accelerate efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage, improve cleanliness and eliminate open defecation in the country by 2nd October, 2019. With the launch of SBM (G), the construction of toilets in schools and anganwadis has been mandated to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ministry of Women and Child Development respectively for greater focus.
Under the SBM, the focus is on behavior change. Community based collective behavior change has been mentioned as the preferred approach, although the states are free to choose the approach best suited to them. Focus is also on creation of complete open defecation free (ODF) villages, rather than only on construction of individual toilets.
• The Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) was started in 2014 in rural areas of the country. The Cabinet approved the total estimated outlay of Rs. 1,34,386.61 crore for SBM (G). The financial burden of SBM (G) between the Centre and states is in the ratio of 60:40, with the exception of special category states where the share is 90:10. From 2014-15 to 2017-18, the central allocation made for SBM (G) has been Rs. 36,836.27 crore, of which Rs. 36,825.48 crore has been released to the states. For the financial year 2018-2019, an allocation of Rs. 30,343 crore has been made, with Rs. 7,509.82 crore already released to the states as of May 2018. The remaining Rs. 22,833.18 crore is planned to be released during the course of the year.
• During the time of launch of the SBM (G) on 2nd October, 2014, the sanitation coverage in the country was 38.7 percent. This has increased to 84.13 percent as on 24th May, 2018.
• Sanitation coverage as on 24th May, 2018 in rural areas of Bihar was 55.84 percent, Assam was 85.83 percent, Goa was 76.22 percent, Jammu & Kashmir was 81.52 percent, Jharkhand was 76.99 percent, Karnataka was 87.89 percent, Madhya Pradesh was 88.05 percent, Manipur was 83.56 percent, Nagaland was 91.73 percent, Odisha was 55.0 percent, Puducherry was 63.06 percent, Tamil Nadu was 98.72 percent, Uttar Pradesh was 68.83 percent, Tripura was 74.77 percent, Telangana was 84.13 percent and West Bengal was 93.48 percent.
• 386 districts, 3,578 blocks, 1,62,688 gram panchayats and 3,66,774 villages have been declared open defecation free (ODF) as on 24th May, 2018. As on 24th May, 2018, 17 states/ UTs namely Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Mizoram, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Dadar & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Maharashtra & Andaman & Nicobar Islands have been declared ODF. There are around 3 crore households pending as on 1st April, 2018, which are likely to be benefitted from this scheme in 2018-19.
• As on 24th May, 2018, nearly 60.83 percent of total villages (viz. 6,02,912) in the country were ODF. The proportion of villages, which were found to be ODF, is the lowest in Goa and Lakshadweep (both zero percent), followed by Tripura (2.21 percent), Bihar (12.15 percent), Odisha (20.42 percent) and Uttar Pradesh (24.65 percent).
• The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) through an Independent Verification Agency has done the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey 2017-2018. In that survey, 92,040 households in 6,136 villages across all states were covered. The main findings of survey are: 1. Nearly 77 percent households in rural India have access to toilets [the corresponding figure as per the SBM-G Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) at the midpoint of the survey period was 76 percent]; 2. Roughly 93.4 percent of the households having access to a toilet use regularly; 3. Nearly 95.6 percent ODF verified villages confirmed ODF; 4. About 70 percent of the villages found to have minimal litter and stagnant water; 5. Roughly 70 percent villages found to have minimal stagnant water.
• According to the MDWS, the number of household toilets constructed was 58 lakhs in 2014-15, 126 lakhs in 2015-16, 218 lakhs in 2016-17 and 294 lakhs in 2017-18.
• Between 2nd October, 2014 and 24th May, 2018, the total number of individual household latrines (IHHLs) constructed in India under the SBM (G) was nearly 7.2 crore. Most IHHL construction under the SBM (G) during this span took place in Uttar Pradesh (around 98 lakhs), followed by Rajasthan (76.4 lakhs) and Madhya Pradesh (56.2 lakhs). As per the Cabinet Note, 9.72 crore IHHLs (8.84 crore eligible for incentive and 0.88 crore non-eligible for APLs) to be constructed under SBM (G), says the report.
• As per the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (2017-18), the proportion of persons using toilets for the households having toilets was the lowest in Tamil Nadu (71.4 percent), followed by Puducherry (78.4 percent), Odisha (85.4 percent), Uttar Pradesh (87.9 percent) and Jharkhand (92.2 percent). At the national level, this figure was 93.2 percent.
• As per the Swachhata Status Report 2016 of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), the proportion of households having access to water for use in toilets out of the households having toilets was the lowest in Odisha (77.5 percent), followed by Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh (both 84.0 percent), Madhya Pradesh (89.2 percent), West Bengal (89.8 percent) and Bihar (90.0 percent). At the national level, this figure was 93.9 percent.
• Between 2nd October, 2014 and 24th May, 2018, the total number of Community Sanitary Complexes (CSC) constructed in India under the SBM (G) was nearly 10,002. Most number of CSCs construction under the SBM (G) during this span took place in West Bengal (2,063), followed by Arunachal Pradesh (1,266), Jammu & Kashmir (1,238), Himachal Pradesh (1,081) and Andhra Pradesh (616).
• The share of Central expenditure for Solid and Liquid Waste Management under the SBM (G) was Rs. 3,748.8 lakhs in 2014-15, Rs. 4,311.49 lakhs in 2015-16, Rs. 4,982.04 lakhs in 2016-17 and Rs. 7,484.69 lakhs in 2017-18. There is significant variation across the states in terms of Centre's share of expenditure for Solid and Liquid Waste Management under the SBM (G).
• Although the funds released under the Swachh Bharat Kosh of SBM (G) for Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Assam, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Odisha and Tripura was altogether Rs. 399.86 crore, the funds utilised as per the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) was Rs. 129.41 crore. It may be noted that the Swachh Bharat Kosh was set up in 2015 by the Ministry of Finance for channelizing the voluntary contribution from individuals and corporate sectors in response to the call given by Hon'ble Prime Minister to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2nd October, 2019.
• Unspent balances under the SBM (G) was Rs. -886.27 crore in 2015-16, Rs. -320.50 in 2016-17, Rs. 4,197.38 crore in 2017-18 and Rs. 9,890.84 crore in 2018-19 (as on 24th May, 2018). States like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have large amount of unspent balances under the programme. As per the MDWS, the reasons for high unspent balance in some states under SBM (G) are: a. Inadequate capacity at grass root level; and b. Existence of revolving funds and leveraging other sources of credit. In its reply to a query by the Standing Committee, the MDWS has said that higher unspent balance in states automatically reduces their eligibility for further fund release in the subsequent year. Due to this specific modality and inbuilt provision in the SBM (G) guidelines, states observe better financial discipline. Strict monitoring methods are adopted to obtain the progress of each district on real time basis using the online monitoring system. Regular review meetings/ video conferences etc. are organized by the MDWS to discuss issues relating to implementation of the SBM (G) and utilization of funds
• The Parliamentary Standing Committee has found out that during the year 2018-19 (as on 24th May, 2018) there was huge unspent balance to the tune of Rs. 9,890.84 crore under the SBM (G). The Committee has observed that the problem of unspent balance is more prominent in certain states as compared to others. The Parliamentary Standing Committee report says that states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have large amount of unspent balances. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh Rs. 2,836.82 crore, in Bihar Rs. 2,764.62 crore, in Madhya Pradesh Rs. 866.68 crore, in Assam Rs. 606.30 crore, in Odisha Rs. 436.71 crore and in Andhra Pradesh Rs. 420.16 crore are lying unspent.
• The MDWS has claimed about 84 percent of sanitation coverage in the rural areas of India as on 24th May, 2018. However, contrary to the figures that was projected by the Ministry, the Parliamentary Standing Committee while examining the subject says that the sanitation coverage figures seemed to be more on "paper" but the actual progress at the ground level is very lethargic. Even a village with 100 percent household toilets cannot be declared ODF till all the inhabitants start using them, says the report. The main thrust of the government should be on the usage of toilets as mere building of toilets alone is not sufficient for the realization of actual vision of an ODF country.
• Much more is required to be done so as to bring in "behavioural change" in rural populace so as to attain the real motive behind the SBM (G), says the report. In the wake of this serious concern, the Standing Committee has recommended the MDWS to bring about a radical transformation in the "behavioural" aspects of the rural masses by inculcating in them a sense of hygiene and well-being through mass extensive awareness campaigns and other suitable mechanisms, so that the gap in the figures projected and the ground reality may be abridged for the betterment of the country.
• The Standing Committee has found that the performance of some of states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Odisha in terms of sanitation is very poor. Appalled by the slackness of sanitation coverage in these states, the Committee enquired from the MDWS about the state of affairs. In response to that, the Ministry has informed that they are aware of it and have given special emphasis to the said states through various innovative measures. In this context, the Secretary of the MDWS candidly admitted before the Standing Committee about the dismal performance of bigger states and assured the Committee that the Government will take all necessary steps and will also provide extra budgetary resources to these states so as to improve the situation. The Parliamentary Standing Committee has observed that the efforts made by the government are not complete if the issue of awareness generation is left behind in this demand driven programme. The Committee has strongly recommended that the MDWS should pay more attention towards pace of sanitation in the low performing states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Odisha on a war footing.
• The Committee is wary of the poor nature of construction and low quality of raw materials being used in the construction of toilets under SBM (G) as found by members themselves and through different feedbacks. The Committee has pressed upon the MDWS to ensure that the quality of raw materials used for construction of toilets under SBM (G) are of a good standard commensurate with the amount being spent as incentive to the beneficiaries without any compromise.