(GIST OF YOJANA) Sustainable Sanitation In The Cities [JANUARY-2020]
(GIST OF YOJANA) Sustainable Sanitation
In The Cities [JANUARY-2020]
Sustainable Sanitation in the Cities
The Census (2011) revealed that 12.6% of households in Urban India were
practising Open Defecation (OD). While this was definitely lower than the
extent of OD (68%) in rural India, it was nonetheless adversely impacting
the health of urban citizens and the overall environment.
Moreover, with only 38% coverage of septic tanks and less than 33%
coverage of sewerage network in the country, more than 70% of the discharge
from the toilets, be it from household or from community/public toilets,
were being disposed off in an unsafe manner.
A bigger cause of worry was that 75% of fresh water resource used for
drinking purpose was contaminated with sewage contributing to 60% of total
pollution load (CPCB Report, 2009).
The Cost of Poor Sanitation:
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) place significant emphasis on
sanitation, cleanliness, and hygiene. There is significant evidence globally
that better sanitation, hygiene, and cleanliness help in effective control
of various vector-borne diseases, parasite infections, and nutritional
There have been studies linking cleanliness and hygiene with reduction
in gastrointestinal diseases (especially diarrhoea), psychological issues,
and allergic conditions. As per a UNICEF report (2011), almost 90% of child
deaths from diarrhoeal diseases are directly linked to contaminated water,
lack of sanitation, or inadequate hygiene.
In addition to the impact on the communicable diseases, better
sanitation leads to reduction in occurrences of low birth weight in babies,
spontaneous abortions, and occurrences of birth defects. Studies have proved
that improvement in sanitation and hygiene results in better health
As per the India Health Report for Nutrition Security in India (PHFI,
2015)', the North Eastern State of Mizoram has reported a 13
percentage-point decline in stunting (below normal height for the age) and
five percentage points decline in underweight children (underweight and
short) between 2006 and 2014 due to improved access to sanitation. Improved
sanitation has been shown to have significant impact not only on health, but
also on social and economic development, particularly in developing
countries. For example, an independent study conducted by UNICEF in India in
August 2017 established that every Indian family will save about Rs. 50,000
annually if open defecation is eliminated.
Journey to Sustainable Urban Sanitation:
On 2 October, 2019, Urban India became Open Defecation Free (ODF) a
fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary. This
historical feat achieved in only a short span of five years was remarkable,
given that no Government programme till date had focused on the issue of
urban sanitation. In the intervening five years, not only was the sanitation
objective of the Mission fulfilled, but lakhs of citizens, especially women,
have been provided dignity and safety and significant reduction in vector
borne diseases with consequent improvement in health parameters has been
experienced, setting urban India on the path of holistic cleanliness.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has been implementing
various Missions of the Government of India, viz. Swachh Bharat Mission
(Urban), AMRUT, Smart Cities Mission, NERUDP all of which address the issue
of Urban sanitation. Over the last five Cars the urban sanitation
initiatives of the Government have achieved impressive success, with more
than 99% of its cities and 35 States/UTs having become ODF (under Swachh
Bharat Mission-Urban). Other Key Enablers: Leveraging Technology, Intensive
Behaviour Change & Capacity Building of ULBs
In addition, MoHUA’s initiatives in urban sanitation have been
complemented significantly through a variety of enablers, viz.
Leveraging technology and ‘smart' solutions to widen citizen outreach
(e.g. Google mapping of public toilets, Swnchhnta app as a Citizens’
grievance redressal system on all aspects of sanitation);
Robust online MIS and portal for real time data capture;
Swachh Manch for large scale citizen engagement;
Behaviour change initiatives (e.g., engagement of celebrities as
ambassadors, mass media audio/video campaigns, swachhata selfie, on-ground
citizen activation, etc.); and
Continuous capacity building of ULBs through dissemination of technical
advisories, providing need-based handholding support, classroom- and field
visit-based workshops, etc.
Urban India is now poised at a crucial juncture. While the sanitation
situation in cities and towns has definitely improved, there is still a lot
that remains to be done, so that all cities become truly smart and liveable.
For example, while sufficient toilets (both for individual households
and community/public toilets) have been constructed and people have started
using them instead of going out for defecation, the issue of maintenance of
the community/public toilets needs to be strengthened further to ensure that
the toilets do not fall into disuse. Similarly, the issues of safe
containment, transportation and disposal of faecal sludge and septage from
toilets, as also the grey and black water from households and establishments
need to be strengthened further if the health impacts of holistic sanitation
are to be realised.
This is especially true for smaller cities without sewer networks, and
for 60% households in the country that are dependent on onsite sanitation
facilities such as septic tanks, which are more often than not constructed
without soak pits, and where desludging trucks routinely empty the
collected, untreated faecal sludge into open fields and water bodies. This
implies that the health and other beneficial impacts of holistic sanitation
are not likely to be achieved in the cities, despite being ODF.