New Delhi: Mr Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister, Housing & Urban Affairs, Govt of India today said that the overwhelming participation of development partners, private sector players, Swachhata ambassadors, Swachhagrahis, and the community-led network has helped create a sustainable behavioral impact regarding sanitation across the country.
Addressing the 4th ISC-FICCI Sanitation Awards and India Sanitation Conclave, Mr Puri said the Swachh Bharat Mission- Urban, launched in 2014 with the vision of making India open-defecation free has today resulted in 4,337 urban local bodies becoming completely open-defecation free. “The remit of this work has been further extended through the ODF+ and ODF++ Certification to maintain and improve sanitation across the country,” he added. The success of this mission is that the citizens of this country have turned this into a Jan Andolan, he stated.
Mr Puri while unveiling the ISC Compendium- Business of change: Models for success in Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) said, “This compendium is a much-needed compilation of successful cases of FSM (Faecal-Sludge Management) in the country. We need such publications that capture lessons indicating operational approaches and solutions for the planners and sector practitioners. This compendium will serve as a knowledge bank and best practices sharing platform that reinforces the build, use, maintain, treat theme.” The treat component in the sanitation value chain has assumed even more significance amid the pandemic outbreak as we can protect our citizens for good hygiene, he added.
Further, Mr Puri said that the India Sanitation Coalition has strongly complimented the government’s programmatic efforts as we have progressed towards achieving a Swachh Bharat. ISC has been forging relationships with allied organizations to lead the discourse on sustainable sanitation and disseminate best practices in the sanitation advocacy space. They have also provided inputs for the policy aspects of sanitation through stakeholder engagements, he said.
“In line with the government’s vision of providing sustainable sanitation for all what is now needed is to conserve every drop of water by protecting our water bodies through safe and sustainable decal-sludge management and wastewater treatment and reuse,” elaborated Mr Puri.
Ms Naina Lal Kidwai, Past President, FICCI and Chair, India Sanitation Coalition informed that under ODF+, the government is looking at stability around SLWM and promoting ‘Waste to Wealth’ “Some noticeable focus areas according to the FSM guidelines and policy, with incentivization as well, is around community sanitary complexes in villages where there is a demand. The construction of the CSCs is also expected to generate employment during the pandemic,” she added.
The government’s initiative, Nal se Jal, for piped drinking water is also linked to better wastewater treatment. Interconnection between sanitation and hygiene is yet another important factor. Hygiene is a key behaviour that needs to be addressed along with sanitation- the toilets alone are not going to improve health, Ms Kidwai noted.
Mr Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI, said that the government has identified the private sector as a key stakeholder in achieving the mission of a sustainable India with both ODF+ and ODF++. “Typically, a lot of people think that the private sector engagement in the WASH segment is an investment in the space. When we look into the CSR spend in the last five years, we see that, on average, less than INR 600 crores has been spent in this sector. Other than ramping up this spend; we need to think of a business proposition,” he said.
It comes out clearly that the industry must do more than just CSR, and unless that is done, we are not going to find an answer to the country’s sanitation, water, and hygiene challenges, Mr Chenoy further added.
The pandemic has shown us the way forward. Never in the history of independent India, the centre and state governments have ever put in such a coordinated and concerted effort towards a single goal. Businesses can and should be a part of the global WASH challenge, said Mr Chenoy.