ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Not Rhetoric

What Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan Really Needs

A lot of hype has been created around the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. But funding from sources such as the corporate social responsibility coffer is wholly inadequate. Moreover, reliance on public-private partnerships without strengthening the capabilities of the existing public agencies in the field through adequate budget allocations and proper training of personnel is a sure sign that the ambitious 2019 target for drinking water supply and sanitation is not going to be met.

The author would like to thank Gaurav Singh and Amar Chanchal for sharing their thoughts on the initial draft of this article.

On 1 January 2015, an English-language daily reported that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (SBA) was liked by 56% of the respondents of a survey conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad.1 The union government had launched SBA on 2 October 2014 with two submissions, SBA (gramin) and SBA (urban). Budgetary provisions for the two submissions will be provided separately in the Demand for Grants of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) (for gramin) and the Ministry of Urban Development (for urban). Two other ministries, the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), more specifically, the latter’s Department of School Education and Literacy, will be responsible for the construction of anganwadi and school toilets.

Prior to the onset of SBA, the first major intervention by the union government was the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP) in 1972–73, to support states and union territories with financial and technical assistance to implement drinking water supply schemes in “problem villages.” In 1986, a technology mission with stress on water quality, appropriate technology intervention, human resource development support and other related activities was introduced. This was renamed as the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission (RGNDWM) in 1991. In 1999–2000, sector reform projects were evolved to involve the community in planning, implementation and management of drinking water-related schemes. In 2002, this was scaled up as the Swajaldhara programme. From 2009 onwards, it was rechristened as the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP). The NRDWP and the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan (NBA) have been the union government’s flagship programmes for rural drinking water and sanitation.

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