The Economic Survey conducted by the government clearly states that the social infrastructure in India reflects gaps in access to education, housing as well as health.
Public health, which has been a major concern of the government, is largely linked to proper sanitation facilities and safe drinking water in both rural and urban areas.
According to the Census of India 2011, around 70 percent of the country’s population resides in the rural and slum area, which have higher exposure to contaminated drinking water, sanitation issues and proper hygiene practices, which are the main causes for diseases in developing countries.
Most of households in India lack access to drinking water. The economic survey reveals that 46.6 percent of households do not have drinking water within premises and less than 50 percent have latrine facilities within their premises.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF monitoring programme, in 2015, nearly 61 percent of rural Indians defecated in the open.
While the problems as above exist, new missions like Swachh Bharat have helped in filing gaps in certain areas. The mission aims to eradicate open defecation in India by October 2, 2019.
The mission is gunning for better hygiene practices and facilities across India, in both urban and rural areas.
“In its first year, i.e. from 2 October 2014 to 2 October 2015, 88 lakh toilets were constructed, against an expected outcome of 60 lakhs,” says the survey.
The survey further adds that more than 122 lakh toilets gave been constructed in rural areas. NSSO data reveals that sanitation coverage has risen to 48.8 percent in December 2015 from 40.60 percent from 2011.
While the numbers does not seem to be big compared to the complexity of the issue, it is a step in the right direction. The Swachh Bharat Mission will start showing results once these toilets are maintained and utilised by the beneficiaries.