A clean India has been one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet objectives, with the Swachh Bharat Mission being launched in October 2014, just months into his first term.
At the time, India's rural sanitation coverage was 38.7 percent. Since then, crores of toilets have been constructed – which in turn have even spawned a mainstream Hindi film. More importantly, rural areas in all states were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) in October 2019.
With Modi completing nine years at the helm of the central government this month, Moneycontrol takes a look at how the mission to improve sanitary conditions in India has progressed in the Prime Minister's second term and the second phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
The big promise
Launched in February 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic brought the country to a standstill, the second phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) focusses on making villages 'Open Defecation Free Plus' (ODF Plus), which includes ODF sustainability and management of solid and liquid waste, and toilets for all. This phase, operational till 2024-25, has been allocated Rs 1.41 lakh crore in total.
One-and-a-half years later, in October 2021, the government launched the second phase of Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). Covering a period of five years, the scheme's total allocation is Rs 1.42 lakh crore, with a focus on "complete faecal sludge management and waste water treatment, source segregation of garbage, reduction in single-use plastic, reduction in air pollution by effectively managing waste from construction-and-demolition activities, and bio-remediation of all legacy dump sites," Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her 2021-22 Budget speech.
The story so far
Nothing tells the progress made so far in the second phase better than the numbers. And the numbers are staggering.
As per latest data for the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) 2.0:
The huge numbers do not mean the government's job is done.
The sheer size of the government's task in cleaning up rural India becomes apparent when one considers there are a total of 5.93 lakh villages. As such, 47 percent of all villages are not yet ODF Plus.
The situation gets more serious when one looks at the ODF Plus indicators: 71 percent of villages don't have solid waste management arrangements, while 57 percent can't take care of liquid waste.
The task is even taller when it comes to cleaning urban India. Of the total legacy waste of 2,440 lakh tonne, 71 percent is yet to be remediated. Further, the area currently occupied by large national dumpsites containing total waste of more than a thousand tonnes each remains huge, with 84 percent – or 15,780 acres – yet to be reclaimed.
But there is still time: until 2024-25 for the rural mission and 2025-26 for the urban.