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Reality of Swachh Bharat Mission

Why is it in the news?

  • India’s placement at the bottom of the 180 countries in 2022 Environment Performance Index prompts scrutiny of the effectiveness of the Swachh Bharat Mission.


About SBM

·        The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was initiated in 2014 with the aim of achieving universal sanitation coverage by 2019, coinciding with the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

·        SBM comprises two sub-missions: urban, overseen by the Ministry of Urban Development, and rural or Gramin (G), managed by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

·        SBM(G) focuses on enhancing cleanliness levels through Solid and Liquid Waste Management initiatives and ensuring Gram Panchayats are Open Defecation Free (ODF), clean, and sanitized.

·        SBM Phase II, which commenced in 2020-2021, extends efforts towards the safe management of solid and liquid waste and the sustainability of ODF status.

·        An ODF Plus village maintains its Open Defecation Free status while implementing either solid or liquid waste management systems.

·        The goal of SBM Phase II is to transform villages from ODF to ODF Plus by 2024-25, emphasizing the importance of sustained sanitation efforts beyond initial achievements.




  • SBM Phase I resulted in the construction of over 10 crore individual household toilets, increasing sanitation coverage from 39% in 2014 to 100% in 2019, with approximately 6 lakh villages declaring themselves Open Defecation Free (ODF).
  • Studies suggest that SBM-G had significant economic, environmental, and health impacts, contributing to women’s empowerment and achieving SDG 6.2 (Sanitation and Hygiene) 11 years ahead of schedule.
  • SBM Phase II has seen 75% of villages achieving ODF Plus status, with top-performing States/UTs including Andaman & Nicobar Islands, D&N Haveli, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, Puducherry, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Tripura.


Issues in implementing SBM  

  • Behavioural Change: Encouraging hygienic practices demands sustained education and awareness campaigns to challenge deep-rooted cultural attitudes.
  • Infrastructure Development: Constructing adequate sanitation infrastructure, especially in rural and remote areas, requires substantial investment and logistical planning.
  • Maintenance of Infrastructure: Merely building toilets isn’t enough; ensuring their ongoing maintenance and usage is crucial for long-term effectiveness.
  • Open Defecation: Despite efforts, it persists due to factors like cultural practices, lack of awareness, or insufficient toilet facilities.
  • Waste Management: Proper management of solid and liquid waste is vital to prevent environmental pollution, yet infrastructure and systems are often inadequate.
  • Funding and Resources: While significant funds have been allocated, ensuring their effective utilization and distribution at grassroots levels remains a challenge for SBM’s success.


Way Forward

  • Addressing challenges in the Swachh Bharat Mission requires a collaborative effort involving government intervention, community participation, and cooperation from civil society organizations.
  • Implementing sustainable solutions to tackle root causes of sanitation issues and continuous monitoring with feedback mechanisms are crucial for long-term success.

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