A long way to go before total sanitation

Seetha Gopalakrishnan
Friday, July 1, 2016 - 16:09

Only 16 out of India's 677 districts open defecation free
With the deadline for Swachh Bharat (2019) fast approaching, authorities are faced with the herculean task of eliminating open defecation in 661 districts out of the total 677 in the country. So far, just 16 districts in the whole of India have been declared open defecation free. Officials have set year-wise goals to achieve total sanitation, of which ridding villages and towns of open defecation is the biggest challenge and the most time-consuming. So far, 163 districts have been identified in the first phase for changing sanitation behaviour with intensive support from the central and state governments.

DU's Project Raahat for Delhi slums
Students from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies have taken to art to create sanitation and hygiene awareness in the slums of Delhi as part of Project Raahat. With an aim to eliminate open defecation, the students collaborated with the artists from Delhi Street Art to transform the slumscape by painting quirky sanitation and hygiene messages. Superhero Raahi, the epitome of cleanliness, is featured in many of the comic strips painted on Kirti Nagar walls.

Public toilets in Chandigarh by private contractors
Starting July 1, toilets in Chandigarh that were hitherto unattended to will become functional. Private contractors are now in charge of their operation and maintenance. Private and public sector banks were earlier asked to take responsibility of maintaining public toilets in the union territory. While some of them came forward to help initially, nothing materialised and in the end, the corporation had invited bids from interested private contractors. The appalling state of many of Chandigarh's public toilets forced the civic body to step up its act.

Companies prefer established models over innovative sanitation solutions
Despite popular support, sanitation schemes in India have failed to take off and maintain the desired pace. Experts suggest that this may be because corporate houses that come forward to help prefer established models like the twin-pit toilets over innovative sanitation solutions such as bio-digesters and waste-recycling toilets. Companies shy away from adopting technologies due to the relatively higher backend expenses in software development without which the risk of non-use is significantly higher. Sanitation experts believe that adoption of innovative technologies is imperative for the government's sanitation success.

Rs 450 crore spent annually to manage Bengaluru's solid waste
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has revealed that it spends close to Rs 450 crore a year to manage Bengaluru's solid waste. Despite the palike collecting Rs 35 crore as solid waste management cess from property owners, mounds of garbage remain strewn in many city locales. In several neighbourhoods, BBMP workers pick up trash once in three or four days, raising serious questions about the manner in which the corporation functions.

This is a roundup of important sanitation related news published between June 25 - July 1, 2016