Time to reaffirm pledge for Swachhatam Bharat, Swasthatam Bharat-Cleaner, healthier India: Hardeep S Puri

New Delhi: Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (I/C), MoHUAhas said that today, as we complete six years of SBM-U, it is time to reaffirm the pledge that we all together took – to come together for a Swachhatam Bharat, a Swasthatam Bharat – a cleaner, healthier India and further fortify the Jan Andolan that all urban Indians are a part of. During his address in a webinar titled ‘Swachhata Ke 6 Saal, Bemisaal’ to celebrate the sixth anniversary of Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U), sh Puri said that this spirit of Jan Andolan and Jan Bhagidari – the power of collective action and leveraging a healthy spirit of competition – is exemplified by the Swachh Survekshan, the annual cleanliness survey of MoHUA. In SS 2020, over 12 crores of citizens have participated in the survey.

The webinar organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs here today celebrated the achievements of the past six years under the Mission along with experience sharing by States and cities and partner organizations and also marks the 151st birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The webinar was chaired by Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (I/C), MoHUA along with Shri Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA and Shri Kamran Rizvi, Additional Secretary, MoHUA.

Speaking at the occasion, the Minister said, “When SBM-U was launched in 2014 by Hon’ble Prime Minister, it was with the vision of achieving ‘Clean India’ by 2nd October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation. Today, I feel immensely proud, as well as humbled, to see how every citizen of urban India has come together to make that dream a tangible reality. This is nothing but the result of the collective efforts of the overwhelming participation of citizens, thousands of Swachhata ambassadors, lakhs of Swachhagrahis, several mass media campaigns and direct outreach programs which has led to SBM-U assuming an unimaginable scale”. “We will need to focus on enhancing our processing capabilities along with efficiently managing our Construction and Demolition waste, and bio-remediating all our legacy dumpsites. The Almanac of Waste Management Practices and the Interactive portal that I launched today captures a wide range of innovative practices by cities in this area and I am confident will really provide a fillip to the capacity building efforts for ULBs by MoHUA”, he added.

Shri Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MOHUA who made a detailed presentation on the achievements of the Mission, added, “When SBM-U was launched on 2nd October 2014, it was with the objective of making urban India Open Defecation Free (ODF) along with complete solid waste management (SWM) in all statutory towns in the country. Today, we have not only achieved our targets but propelled the country on the path of sustainable sanitation and holistic SWM through protocols such as ODF+ and ODF++, Star Rating for Garbage Free Cities and our annual cleanliness survey, Swachh Survekshan which needs no introduction. From a position of zero ODF states and cities in 2014, more than 97% of our cities have today become ODF. In SWM, from a meagre 18% of solid waste that was being processed in 2014, we have gone up to 67% of waste being processed, and more than 77% wards are practising source segregation. We intend to continue our efforts and ensure that these numbers see substantial improvement in the next few years.”

The inaugural session of the event also featured a short film, ‘Swachhata Ke 6 Saal, Bemisaal’ that captures the journey and impact of SBM-U since its launch in 2014. The last six years of the Mission has also seen several digital innovations that have been game-changers when it comes to improving service delivery in Swachhata – key interventions include Swachhhata App, the citizen grievance redressal tool for complaints related to cleanliness, SBM Toilets on Google Maps which lets users locate the nearest public toilet on Google Maps and Swachh Manch, the digital engagement platform for citizens dedicated to Swachhata related activities and events. Complementing these digital interventions are innovative multimedia campaigns on themes ranging from sustained usage of toilets, source segregation of waste and practising home composting. All these efforts, aimed at bringing the Mission closer to the citizens, have resulted in crores of citizens directly participating in the program – while over 12 crore citizens had participated in the last edition of Swachh Survekshan, over 7 crore citizens had come together in Swachhata Hi Seva 2019 to realize Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of single-use plastic free India.

The event also saw select states and cities such as Uttarakhand, Kerala, Imphal, Dungarpur, Khargone etc their experiences of the past six years and and chalking out the next steps towards a Swachhatam Bharat. Participants also got the opportunity to listen to the experiences of SBM-U’s development partners that include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), GIZ, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). A series of key publications were also launched by the Ministry. While the document ‘Frontline Stories of Resilience: India’s Sanitation Champions’ compiled by the National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (NFSSM) Alliance presents inspirational stories of sanitation workers from across the country, the ‘COVID Diaries: Responses of Indian Cities to COVID-19’ by the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) documents a range of actions and initiatives taken byIndian cities during the first four months of lockdown period of Covid-19 and provides a Resilient Urban Sanitation Response (RUSR) Framework, which can be applied by cities in responding to the pandemic situation.

Along with this, the Minister also released the ‘Almanac of Waste Management Practices’, a compendium of best practices and innovative case studies in SWM. Capacity building of officials and staff of ULBs has been an integral part of the Mission. As part of this endeavor, the Ministry, with the help of National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) has conducted over 150 workshops across India witnessing the participation of over 6000 officials representing over 3200 ULBs since 2016.

The interactive SBM-U portal developed by NIUA documents the learnings from these workshops. Safety of sanitation workers, the frontline Swachhata Warriors of the Mission has always been a key focus under the Mission. In an effort to sensitize ULBs for taking immediate interventions to reduce vulnerabilities of sanitation workers and safeguard their rights., the Ministry also released a Ready Reckoner for Ensuring Safety of Sanitation Workers prepared by the Urban Management Centre (UMC). The Sanitation Mapping Tool developed by UMC to help ULBs to make their public and community toilets (PT/ CT) ODF+ was also launched by the Ministry.

Summing up the way forward for the Mission, the Minister said, “While we can definitely take pride in the achievements of the last few years the journey has only begun. In line with the Government’s vision of providing sustainable sanitation to all, the need of the hour is the conservation of every drop of water by protecting our water bodies through safe and sustainable faecal sludge management, wastewater treatment and reuse. In the area of SWM, we will focus extensively on curtailing the use of single use plastic to the extent possible, enhancing our processing capabilities along with efficiently managing our Construction and Demolition waste, and bio-remediating of legacy dumpsites.” With the noteworthy achievements of the last six years, the Mission has indeed been able to script a new chapter in the journey towards a Swachh’, Swasth’, ‘Sashakt’, ‘Samridhh’ and ‘Atmanirbhar’ Bharat.

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