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Swachh Survekshan looks beyond toilets

Obstacle course: Plastic garbage dumped in the canal at Chepauk in Chennai on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: M. Karunakaran

In a nascent effort to look beyond toilets and kick off its ODF+ phase — that is, Open Defecation Free Plus — focussing on solid and liquid waste management, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) has included the prevalence of plastic litter and water-logging in villages as indicators of cleanliness in its 2019 rural survey.

For the last five years, ever since the SBA was launched on Gandhi Jayanti in 2014, its main focus has been on eliminating open defecation by constructing toilets and promoting their usage through widespread behaviour change programmes. With the October 2, 2019 deadline looming near, and the original goal almost achieved according to government data, the mission is moving on to its next phase.

Four main verticals

“ODF+ will have four main verticals — solid waste management divided into biodegradable waste and plastic waste, and liquid waste management divided into grey water, or kitchen waste water, and faecal waste,” said Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, speaking at the launch of Swachh Survekshan 2019. “We are working out the specific protocols for the different modules...Right now, there is no mechanism for plastic waste collection or waste disposal in most villages.”

A senior official explained that the protocol for plastic waste would call for bans on single use plastic, as well as the collection and sorting of waste at the Block level. If possible, plastic waste would be sent for recycling, or baled and shredded. “There are also proposals to use it in cement plants and brick kilns. There is potentially a profitable market available for this waste if handled correctly,” said the official. “We don’t want to create landfills across rural India in the name of waste collection and management.”

Village-based survey

The survey aims to cover 18,000 sample villages — approximately 30 per rural district — and take feedback from over 2.5 crore villagers. In fact, citizen feedback will account for 35% of the ranking of districts. Another 30% weightage is being given to direct observations by surveyors from third party Ipsos, who will look at the prevalence of plastic litter and water-logging as well as the availability and usage of toilets. The remaining 35% will be drawn from service-level progress measuring the final activities of the original Swachh Bharat mission.

“Continuity is the basis of behaviour change. This survey is one step to ensure continuity and sustainability of ODF achievements,” said Mr. Shekhawat.

The survey will be conducted on the field from August 14 to September 2. Final results will be announced on October 2, 2019.


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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 3:52:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/swachh-survekshan-looks-beyond-toilets/article29095052.ece

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