Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is an ambitious scheme launched by the Government of India to make its cities neat and clean and open defecation free. Inaugurated on the birth anniversary (2nd October) of Mahatma Gandhi in 2014 the scheme will last for five years, concluding on his 150th birth anniversary on 2nd October 2019.
The scheme has been a success till date with rigorous cleaning campaigns and thousands of millions volunteering in several drives. It also holds many distinctions including being the largest national cleanliness drive so far.
Despite several initiatives taken by previous governments of India, open defecation remained a major environmental, health and safety issue, primarily in rural areas. As per the records, prior to 2014, there were around 550 million people defecating in open. It had become a part of their everyday routine.
Apart from being an unhygienic and unethical practice, open defecation was also a serious health concern. It was also found that the same amount of open defecation was causing more diseases in places with dense population.
Also, there was an urgent need to instil a sense of responsibility in people about their own surroundings and towards the environment. A message was needed to be sent to the people that only personal cleanliness isn’t enough and they also have a national responsibility to keep their country clean.
The mission has several objectives pertaining to cleanliness in rural as well as urban areas. It includes objectives like – making India open defecation free till 2nd October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi; empowering urban local bodies by enhancing their capacities in order to ensure better implementation of the scheme; to make people more aware of healthy sanitation practices and to discourage them from open defecation etc.
The mission also aims for a proper waste collection and disposal mechanism, implementing modern techniques, both in rural and urban settlements. Elimination of manual scavenging is also a prime objective of Swachh Bharat Mission.
Another objective of Swachh Bharat Mission was to include large scale participation of the private sector either monetarily through contribution to capital expenditure or volunteering physically for cleanliness drives.
As per the statistics, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan had been quite successful in its objectives. At its inception, the mission had an objective of making India open defecation free till 2nd October 2019, by constructing nearly 90 million toilets throughout Indian villages.
More than 90 million toilets have been constructed till January 2019 and the number of open defecation has been significantly reduced from 550 million to 150 million as in late 2018.
Rural sanitation which till 2014 was reeking below 40% rose high to 98% in the first four years of the mission. Western state of Haryana tops the rank with 100% of its rural households having toilets.
Swachh Bharat Mission is an ambitious cleanliness drive by the Government of India. So far it is the largest drive of its kind and including active participation at ground level. The scheme has proved to be a success because of impeccable planning and hard work of those involved from top to bottom.