‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ or ‘Clean India Mission’ was initiated by Government of India on October 2, 2014 to eliminate open defecation and improve solid waste management. But the irony here is that the objectives for which these campaigns are launched often remain unfulfilled. Gauging our own country’s performance in this “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan”, it can be said that it is really not a cup of cake to launch a campaign. Even after launching, expecting immediate results is like wishing for an overnight miracle to happen.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was indeed a marvelous initiative by the government. It was split up into two areas: rural and urban. This national campaign spanned 4,041 statutory cities and towns. It aimed to eradicate open defecation by 2nd October,2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 90 million toilets in rural India at a projected cost of Rs.1.96 lakh crore. In 2014, India was the country with the highest number of people practising open defecation, around 530 million people. But after this campaign was launched, there has been a tremendous change in the country. 35 states/ Union Territories, 699 districts and 5.99 lakh villages were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 25th September,2019. The number of schools with separate toilet facilities for girls rose from 0.4 million (37 per cent) to almost one million (91 per cent).
Despite being such a great initiative, it has not been completely able to fulfill its objective. The reason as to why it lagged behind was mainly the habits of people. The government provided subsidy for construction of nearly 110 million toilets between 2014 and 2019 although some Indians especially in rural areas choose not to use them. There are some habits followed by rural people which they find difficult to leave. They also teach their children the same manners. They find their methods hygienic and they don’t want to listen to anyone. And as a result, all the efforts of the residual population of the country are in vain. Such practices take our country a step back from reaching the cleanliness levels.
Open defecation leads to a number of problems, mostly including health problems. It is the one of the main cause of water borne diseases like cholera, typhoid and trachoma. People think that water washes away their waste. This contaminated water flows to the water system and then towards our houses for consumption. When human waste gets collected into heaps, it attracts flies and other insects and leads to vector borne diseases. Apart from health problems, it deprives people of basic healthy environment.
In this age of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, it is quite heartbreaking that open defecation is still common in some areas. To improve the condition of our country, the need of hour is to educate people about the health problems arising from open defecation. Sanitation is a basic right of all citizens and all possible efforts should be made to make our country and Open Defecation Free country .