India has initiated Swachh Bharat initiative from 2nd October 2014, as its flagship mission with the target date of 2nd October 2019, 2019 being the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. This program has various initiatives like making india defecation free by 2019, treatment of municipal solid waste, elimination of manual scavenging, converting pour toilets to flush toilets and finally bringing behavioural change in people so that the above initiatives could be achieved.
In this mission, there are 4041 towns covered as per 2011 census and 5 crore toilets have been built in three years. This is not a new initiative, as it has its history attached to the father of nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who during his stay in South Africa noticed the discrimination towards the Asians and especially Indians who constituted a significant number. One of the reasons for this discrimination lay in the insanitary conditions which the British regarded Indians and lack of hygiene. This moved Gandhiji and he after his return to India, stressed on his campaign of cleanliness. This is the main reason that Gandhiji's spectacle is used as the symbol of swachh bharat. To promote this initiative, swachh sarvekshan is organised both for rural and urban areas once in a year.
Talking about one among many objectives of Swachh Bharat, open defecation free India, people in rural areas stress on making one pit toilet tank instead of two pits , the reason cited that the two pit toilet system will be filled up more quickly. This being not the truth, two pit toilet system reduces the toxic pollution of the ground and therefore recommended. In this system, one pit is filled first, then the second pit starts filling, by that time the waste in the first pit becomes less harmful by the bacteria.
The reasons for defecating in open space is not just one but many, the flush toilets consumes more water than is consumed in a lota. The supply of water being one issue. Now, people also defecate in open citing the filling of tank, which would be prevented if they defecate in open. Also, men often dominate in defecating in open, as this also prevents the dignity of women, and also prevents filling of tank.
The solution to eliminating the open defecation lies in a step wise process which includes making of toilets. Although, there are many toilets being built in three years, yet proper attention should be given to the toilets based on gender and proper toilets for women and girls in schools with water supply. Containment process which means defecating in open should be stopped by imposing penalties if possible and spreading awareness among people, as the ongoing campaign 'Darwaza Bandh'. This will help in bringing behavioural change in people. Transportation of the sewage from one part to another should also be focused. Here sealed pipes should be used for transporting waste to reduce land pollution. Finally, treatment of the waste is also an important step. This includes the involvement of municipalities in waste disposal.
The whole cycle thus will help in making India be open defecation free by 2019. The government has though involved the private sector in this initiative through corporate social responsibility, their increased role can help in bringing greater efficiency to the ongoing project.
- Akriti Singh