Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan – A Legacy of Unfinished Toilets?

One of the most applauded, publicised and actually needed social welfare programs is the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Gramin). This program is targeted toward the villages of our country that house around three-fourth of India’s population. It aims to provide comprehensive sanitation coverage such as toilets and rid our villages from the menace of open defecation. 

One of the major initiatives under this program is to build community and household toilets. The Swachh Bharat Gramin website reports that over 1.4 lakh villages have self-declared themselves to be open defecation free – which is a very impressive and commendable achievement in one year. But having a motorised vehicle that allows you travel from point to point will only be useful if A) proper fuel is available and B) procurement of that fuel is within the grasp of the vehicle owner. Without these two, your vehicle is of no value per se. 

The above example is the metaphor for the SBA initiative. Even though we are building toilets willy-nilly all around the country we need to look at certain infrastructural requirements that are vital to ensure that these toilets can be utilised effectively. Stakeholders have to pay close attention to water supply, drainage, cleanliness and material quality in order to ensure that this initiative actually creates value for the unprivileged brothers and sisters that reside in our villages. 

As seen in this video – even though the toilets have been built – there is no water supply. Nearest water source is the local river and fetching water from the river is a gruesome task. Without water, these toilets cannot be utilised for their intended purpose and will be merely reduced to just a number that looks very good in a formal report.  Our network has reported similar cases across India. See the videos here, here and here.

While the residents have accepted these welfare programmes with open-arms, the administration is falling short of providing them quality services which they were promised. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that these programs are well thought out and all contingencies are taken care off.

Call the PWD Executive Engineer of Ramgarh, Jharkhand on +91-9631180046 about this problem and help the residents of Ramgarh get toilets. 

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