Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Swachh Bharat fails but touted as success

As of 2011, 53% of 246 million households don't have latrines. Half of the households i.e. half of the population, defecate in open. As of 2015, 564 million people i.e. 50% of population still defecate in open. 65,000 tonnes of uncovered, untreated faeces were being introduced into environment every single day. Swachch Bharat Mission makes it a major objective to completely eliminate this open defecation by 2019. This is enormous, noble and admirable goal. Next comes hygiene and sanitation. Door to door collection of garbage and process the inorganic trash for power generation and organic waste to covert into manure is another task. Between 1990-2015, 394 million people stopped defecatinhg in open, but overall situation remain dismal.

  • Launched by PM Modi on Oct 2, 2014, with objective of “A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary in 2019.”
  • He roped in every layer of India’s vast government—from the cabinet, through the ministries and state and district administrations, down all the way to individual urban authorities and village panchayats.
  • A cess of 0.5 percent on all taxable services to help raise money for the campaign. 
  • On the second anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission came the proclamation of one of its most touted successes. They declared that Gujarat, Modi’s home state, had eradicated open defecation in all urban areas. The minister M Venkaiah Naidu, hailed this “interim gift” to Gandhi. 
  • As part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the Gujarat government has declared that all of the state’s urban areas, including Ahmedabad, have eradicated open defecation. Yet the practice continues in Maninagar, an area in Ahmedabad that thrice elected Narendra Modi as its MLA, and in other parts of the city too—belying the government’s claim.
  • Apart from constructing latrines, sanitary systems maintenance and disposal of sewerage captured are even more important and nothing is being done in these matters. Whole of the money is spent on publicity and construction of latrines which serves no purpose.
  • The ending of manual scavenging was not given much thought or importance in any of the schemes of Swachh Bharat Mission, speaks volumes about the apathy of Modi administration. They do only visible things that garner them publicity.
  • The CAG report stating that less than 3% of Gujarat Municipalities have sewage segregation systems in place,  none of its municipal corporations have segregation rates more than 18% and none of the state's municipalities have working sewage treatment facilities - speaks volumes about what Modi has done in this direction during his 14 years as CM of Gujarat.
  • In his unreleased book 'Karmayog' of 2007 published by GSPC, Chief Minister Narendra Modi writes that scavenging was an 'experience in spirituality' for the Valmikis. Modi describes scavengers assigned role in the caste order as a "job bestowed upon them by Gods". This blatant casteism outraged Dalit groups, is another matter. Under Modi's instructions Gujarat Information Dept withdrew the book from circulation. Poet Nirav Patel asked bitterly: “Why didn’t it occur to Modi that the spirituality involved in doing menial jobs hasn’t ever been experienced by the upper castes?”
  • Unless overall governance at grass root level improves, mere deployment of resources may not have any significant impact.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission failed to make any impact for people living on margins of society especially in rural areas, due to lack of conviction down the line and meager resources spent mostly on publicity and campaign.

My View:
Habits won't change with edicts. People change when others change and they find benefits, over time. Education and awareness are the keys. Like any other scheme, Modi announces and publicity reverberates in all corners spending hundreds of millions of rupees. BJP troll brigade makes sure that social media carries all publicity. And when the truth surfaces later, Modi & Co maintains stoic silence. He never answers parliament where reply must straight and point by point inviting supplementary questions. But he responds in public meeting or televised address which carries whatever he wants to say, usually blatant lies and abusing past regimes i.e. Congress & Nehru family. Imagine a nation's prime minister telling blatant lies and distorted truths to its people, all the times!

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