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Is Swachh Bharat Abhiyan losing stream?

Is Swachh Bharat Abhiyan losing stream?

The much touted ¨Abhiyan¨ of the Centre, Swachh Bharat has hit its first roadblock-a funding block. The scheme, which depends on the massive financial assistance from the Centre, is likely to miss its deadline of 2019 on account of slashing of Rs 635 crore of financial assistance, reducing it from Rs 4,135 crore to Rs 3,500 crore. What´s more, since the Centre has asked the state government to bear the larger portion of the cost, it will be quite interesting to see the centre-state coordination for one of the largest cleanliness drive programmes of the country.

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), PM´s pet project, witnessed a lacklustre response at the recently conducted sub-group committee meeting- with only 3 Chief Ministers turning up, viz., Andhra Pradesh CM- the convener, Karnataka CM and CM of Haryana. It seems another ¨mission¨ of the present government is unlikely to see the light of day, courtesy the revision of budgetary allocation for the mission and the Cente´s complete reliance on state support.

Through this story, INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY, brings the recent developments in the status of the mission-right from revised budgetary allocation to the mood of private entities.

To begin with, the Parliamentary Standing Committee in its report has revised the funding assistance for drinking and sanitation purpose, which falls under the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. In its report, the committee informed that the overall budget has been revised to Rs 5,243.87 crore (planned and non-planned) from Rs 15,260 crore for FY15-16. In the current fiscal policy for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), the government has allocated Rs 2,611 crore and Rs 2,625 crore for Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural). The panel in its report says that the meagre allocation of Rs 5,236 crore is quite inadequate to meet the requirements and feels that this will definitely have an adverse impact on NRDWP and SBM-G and as a result, millions of people living in rural areas of the country will be affected.

It further states that the allocation of Rs 2625 (Revised Estimate) for SBM (Rural) for FY 2015-16 is a decline of Rs 225 crore from last year´s allocation of Rs.2850 crore. The Parliamentary Standing Committee for Rural Development states that the reduction in budgetary allocation for the mission would affect the achievement of targets due to lower prioritisation of the programme by state governments, inadequate implementation structures, inadequate capacity at the grassroots level, lack of behavioural changes and poor demand generation. The committee headed by P Venugopal expresses ¨serious concern¨ over the drastic reduction in the budgetary allocation for SBM (Rural) in the current financial year. ¨The budget is too inadequate. The state budgets are under finalisation and planning has been made for achievement of the target of constructing one crore toilets in FY 2015-16. The reason for reduction in budget for 2015-16 has not been indicated to this ministry. The issues have been taken up with finance ministry,¨ Vijaylaxmi Joshi, Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation informed the parliamentary panel.

¨Further, there is also lack of clarity on funding pattern- whether the present, centre-state share of 75:25 would be made 50:50 or 60:40. The issue has been taken to the Finance Ministry,¨ Vijaylaxmi added. The total project cost for the urban component of the mission is Rs 62,009 crore, out of which Central assistance would be to the tune of Rs 14,623 crore. ¨Such an investment is basic minimum, given the humungous gap in the area of sanitation in India. While the government is making significant contribution, private sector participation is equally important to fill the investment gaps which in a way is coming forth through CSR in response to Prime Minister´s call on the Independence Day,¨ A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI says.

Sanitation is a centrally sponsored scheme and without central funds, the states are not obliged to spend on it, informs Nitya Jacob, Head of Policy, Water Aid. He also adds that under any centrally sponsored scheme the costs are shared between the centre and states. In most sanitation work, it is 80:20. Thus, transferring more money to states will only help them cover their 20 per cent share while 80 per cent has to come from the Centre. Without a large purse how can the Central Government ensure that the states will give sanitation the priority it needs?

Corporates´ willing to shell out
The corporates are willing to shell out two per cent of their three-year average annual net profit towards CSR activities for Swachh Bharat Mission. Bharti Foundation has committed to invest Rs 100 crore for the construction of girls´ toilets in Ludhiana. Its programme, ´Satya Bharti Abhiyan´ aims to bring sanitation to households and it would construct nearly 30,000 toilets. TCS has announced that it will finance the construction of hygienic sanitation facilities for girl students in 10,000 schools. It has earmarked Rs 100 crore for this project.

Eram Scientific Solutions (ESS) Private Limited has been constructing e-toilets for TCS. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has so far installed 650 toilets in 15 states and it has invested Rs 20 crore for the initiative. ¨We are currently working with TCS for implementing e-toilets in 361 schools in Andhra Pradesh as part of its CSR initiative. Though we are tied up with corporates as a service provider, we are bearing close to 40 to 45 per cent tax on e-toilets. The government should reduce such tax burdens on service providers and manufacturers. Even the excise duty on e-toilets should be reduced so as to promote these eco-friendly toilets that can generate multiple revenue options courtesy features like pre -flushing and automatic flushing options, unmanned self-cleaning, simple user interfaces unlike the conventional toilets,¨ says Anvar Sadath K, CEO, Eram Scientific Solutions Private Limited.

Jindal Architecture, a subsidiary of Jindal Stainless Steel Limited, has introduced modular stainless steel toilets as a part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. These toilets are launched with a prospective life of over 25 years and require minimal maintenance.¨The toilets manufactured are available in single seat, set of six seats (community toilets) and single seat with four urinals. We are providing toilets with bio-disposable tanks for areas where sewerage and waste disposal is abysmal. We have already had orders for over 550 toilets and have supplied to various public sector and private sector companies under their CSR initiative. We expect doing over 2,000 toilets this year. Single unit toilets cost a minimum of Rs 99,999, six-unit community toilets cost Rs 3.99 lakh and eight units cost Rs 4.99 lakh,¨ informs Anuj Jain, CEO, Jindal Architecture. ¨Very few corporate organisations take up such social welfare activities as a duty towards society. Most of them perceive these as means to gain tax benefits- excellent carrots,¨ points out Rusen Kumar, Director, CSR India.

Kosh to streamline funds
The allotted Rs 1.96 lakh crore by the Central Government for SBM rural and urban is miniscule and more funds are the need of the hour. The private sector participation, coming forth through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is expected to fill the investment gaps. The Swachh Bharat Kosh (SBK) has been set up by the Finance Ministry to facilitate channelisation of philanthropic contributions and CSR funds. ¨Till now, the total funds released by Swachh Bharat Kosh is Rs 85 crore, sanctioned by the board for building girls´ toilets,¨ says Vivek Joshi, Administrator, Swachh Bharat Kosh.

¨We are getting steady flow of funds for the mission mostly from corporates and individuals, not from NRIs. The Budget has proposed to implement the two percent cess on service tax and allow 100 per cent deduction on SBK, which would definitely increase the fund flow. As of now, we are dealing with the funds related to the toilets built for girl students,¨ says Joshi. Meanwhile, the Secretary for the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry has stated to the parliamentary panel that there are serious apprehensions as to how the mission will be successfully accomplished when there is no clarity on the guidelines of Swachh Bharat Kosh (SBK).

As per the guidelines of the Finance Ministry, the Prime Minister himself will acknowledge contributions of over Rs One crore made by individuals and over Rs 20 crore by corporates in SBK. Rs 10 to 20 crore as well as Rs 50 lakh to one crore worth companies would come under the purview of the Finance Ministry. The SBK is administered by a governing council and chaired by the Secretary for the Ministry of Expenditure (Finance). Its functioning will be monitored on quarterly basis by the Finance Minister and by the Prime Minister from time-to-time.

Toilets for all -a big challenge
Without the support of corporate organisations and Public Sector Units (PSUs), the mission´s main activity of building ´Toilets for All´ and implementing sanitation and improving GDP remains a dream. The Mission that kick-started on 2nd October 2014 has been slow in implementation. In FY 2014-15, 5.9 million toilets were made. Compared to FY 2013-14, in which 4.9 million were constructed, this was not a significant jump and much below the needed rate of 28 million. According to government data, a total of 31.83 lakh toilets were built between April 2014 and January 2015, which is 25.4 per cent of the target for FY 2014-15. The programme entails an investment of nearly Rs Two lakh crore over the next five years to construct 12 crore toilets in India. ¨The returns on sanitation are 1:6 in terms of productivity gains. Most gains come from reducing medical expenses. But I don´t think the mission will make any difference to the economy. There aren´t enough people and the supply chain is too weak,¨ says Nitya Jacob.

No fund allotted for human resources
The focus should not only be on construction of toilets to achieve the Clean India Mission by 2019 but also on including substantial running cost for human resources, says Bindeshwar Pathak, Sulabh International Social Service Organization – a pioneer in building public toilets. For example, assuming that one person per panchayat needs to be paid Rs 100 per toilet every month, it works out to Rs 3,120 crore for frontline motivators over a period of four years. At block level, about five staff per block being paid Rs 15,000 each month calculates upto Rs 75,000 per block. There are about 7,500 blocks and over a period of four years, they need to be paid Rs 1,800 crore. So, cost to be paid for the human resources per year is Rs 4,920 crore approximately.

¨Investments on human resources is necessary as they are the ones who would ensure use and maintenance of the toilets built. Just by constructing toilets, we are not going to ensure a clean India. People have to use them. But this is missing in the mission,¨ says Pathak. At least 50,000 volunteers in rural areas need to be trained to accomplish the task of maintenance in 6, 40,000 villages pan-India, with 13 villages under each person´s purview. There is also an aggregate of 9,735 towns and cities to be catered. There is also the pressing need to train two lakh masons.

Focus on waste management
It is not just human resources but waste management and disposal, an important aspect featuring third on the list of the Swachh Bharat Mission´s objectives, has also not been given ample focus. Even the companies looking to spend their CSR funds for clean India have shown no inclination towards this part of the mission. Out of the total first installment funds of Rs 859 crore issued by the Urban Development Ministry, Rs 287.5 crore has been allocated for solid waste management. Uttar Pradesh has been allotted the largest share amounting to Rs 37.56, followed by West Bengal (Rs 34.54 crore) and Andhra Pradesh (Rs 21.02 crore) while few states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha have not been allotted funds.

¨The mission is totally concentrating on construction of toilets, showing little enthusiasm towards waste management. Waste management requires engaging waste generators, collectors, rag pickers, segregators and disposers. Unlike toilets, it is not a one-time investment. Rather, it is a tedious process involving high capital expense. In addition, it requires constant maintenance and monitoring so that there are no takers,¨ says Amiya Kumar Sahu, Founder, and National Solid Waste Association of India (NSWAI).

The country will need Rs 60,000 crore per year for municipal solid waste management alone. According to a 2012 report of the Central Pollution Control Board, India generates almost 50,000 tonne of municipal wastes every day. Barely 12 per cent of this gets treated or disposed off in a scientific manner. ¨The mission has given peanuts for solid waste management; not even a single PPP model has been signed in the sector till date. The Urban Development Ministry should ask the urban local bodies to take active steps in the sector,¨ adds Sahu.

Meanwhile, the North and South Delhi Municipal Corporations have informed that they have not received the allotted amount from the Swachh Bharat Fund. ¨The Centre is yet to give the money due from the Swachh Bharat Fund,¨ informs Amit Yadav, Municipal Commissioner, East Delhi. ¨The South Delhi Corporation is yet to receive Rs 200 crore slated for cleaning and waste management,¨says Mukesh Yadav, Spokesperson, South Delhi Municipal Corporation.

Meanwhile, Attero- an e-waste company- which has tied up with the World Bank for a campaign on collecting e-waste from the informal sector workers. ¨The mission should have added e-waste as a separate objective because it´s the most hazardous waste generated. Nearly 95 per cent of e-waste recycling is handled by an unorganised sector which, unfortunately, is not equipped with the technology or the capital to undertake recycling in an environment-friendly and safe manner,¨ informs Nitin Gupta, CEO, Attero- an e-waste company which has tied up with the World Bank for a campaign on collecting e-waste from the informal sector workers. India generates 800,000 tonne of e-waste annually and it is set to reach 1.72 million metric tonnes by 2020.

Meanwhile, the waste water management- building sewage and sewage treatment plants- needs abundant funds and the budget provided in Swachh Bharat does not suffice.¨Five years ago an estimate was put by an expert committee that waste water plan for the country would be Rs 3,80,000 crore but now the requirement is 20 per cent more than what was estimated,¨ opines K Vishwanath, Advisor, Biome Solutions. The available waste water management technology is high in capital and maintenance costs, which no corporate is willing to fund. As per Sulabh International, out of about 4700 towns and cities in India, only 232 have sewerage system and that too only partial. Most of the untreated waste water is, therefore, discharged into rivers or other water bodies. In rural areas, it is a common practice to discharge waste without collection. There is no question of treatment, recycle or even reuse of waste water sullage as people are not even aware of this technology. ¨We have come with a simple and cost-effective duckweed-based waste water treatment in rural and urban areas which can give direct economic returns. But such projects are not fully exploited. Though the centre has a mission and gives funds, the states and the municipalities do not implement it,¨ adds Pathak.

Need of the hour
The much publicised Swachh Bharat Mission seems to be losing its stream gradually as the States have miserably failed to meet the target of building sanitary complexes, which is crucial for success of the mission. At the close of FY 2014-15, the government missed its target of constructing 1.2 crore toilets. According to government data, a total of 31.83 lakh toilets have been built between April 2014 and January 2015, which is 25.4 per cent of the target for 2014-15. The programme target is to construct 12 crore toilets by 2019. Each state is yet to go a long way in solid and liquid waste management, a key objective of the mission.

The mammoth clean drive, which goes with a tagline ´a step towards cleanliness´, requires few rapid strides to reach the five-year goal, drawing to a close on 2 October 2019 and coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Top Countries without Sanitation (source -take part -2014)

  • India – 818 million
  • China – 607 million
  • Indonesia – 109 million
  • Nigeria – 103 million
  • Pakistan – 98 million
  • Bangladesh – 75 million
  • Ethiopia – 71 million
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo – 50 million
  • Brazil – 39 million
  • Tanzania – 32 million
  • Kenya – 27 million
  • Sudan – 27 million
  • Vietnam – 22 million
  • Phillippines – 22 million
  • Nepal – 20 million
  • Ghana – 20 million

State-wise fund allocation for SBA
State Name Center Allocated Fund
(Rs in lakhs)
ANDHRA PRADESH 16000.98
ARUNACHAL PRADESH 526.63
ASSAM 17175.74
BIHAR 14331.17
CHHATTISGARH 5826.24
D & N HAVELI 1.48
GOA 43.88
GUJARAT 5363.34
HARYANA 4705.49
HIMACHAL PRADESH 11978.65
JAMMU & KASHMIR 11686.52
JHARKHAND 4282.98
KARNATAKA -5696.42
KERALA 3712.06
MADHYA PRADESH 27232.67
MAHARASHTRA 3234.57
MANIPUR 492.76
MEGHALAYA 3921.77
MIZORAM 703.59
NAGALAND 2055.85
ODISHA 11910.67
PUDUCHERRY 223.12
PUNJAB 457.96
RAJASTHAN 4292.16
SIKKIM 492.99
TAMIL NADU 23975.62
TELANGANA 5907.15
TRIPURA 4985.99
UTTAR PRADESH 27588.35
UTTARAKHAND 563.13
WEST BENGAL 2956.34
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