Interesting opinion piece on livemint, by Sudipto Mundle, highlighting the progress made on one of PM Narendra Modi main election promises, the Swachh Bharat Mission, a campaign that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India's cities, smaller towns, and rural areas.
The writer notes that this was a big challenge, as several tough questions had to be answered. Questions such as; how do you equip 100 million rural homes with a toilet, or; how to change the mindset of a billion people who are used to just dumping their dirt and rubbish in a public space.
He then lists some of the progress made;
Since October 2014, when the programme was launched, SBM has equipped 75 million households with toilets. At the time of its launch, fewer than 40% of households had toilets at home. Today that figure is up to over 85%. The number of open defecation-free (ODF) villages has gone up from 47,000 to 384,000 over the same period—about 65% of all villages in the country.
Seventeen states and Union Territories (UTs) are now ODF. Of the remaining 16, another three are almost ODF (>90%) and six are more than 85% ODF. Only seven states/UTs are lagging behind. Odisha is the worst off with only 56% sanitation coverage, followed by Bihar (57%), Puducherry (68%), Uttar Pradesh (72%), Tripura (75%) and Goa (76%). An independent survey of over 92,000 households across the country, guided by a group of international experts and representatives of Unicef and World Bank, verified that 96% of the villages declared ODF were indeed ODF, and 77% of the households surveyed had toilets (consistent with the official estimate of 76% at the time of the survey). Of the people who had access to toilets, 93% were found to use them regularly, which is very close to an even higher estimate of 95% revealed by a separate survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Office. Finally, 70% of the villages surveyed also had minimum litter or stagnant water.
There are also significant financial gains from SBM. A survey of over 10,000 households last year, sponsored by Unicef, estimated that, on average, an ODF village household could be gaining as much as Rs50,000 per year from savings in medical expenditure because of lower incidence of illness and less income loss due to fewer days of unpaid sick leave. A very significant gain, especially for poor households.
All in all, tangible evidence of progress made under Modi administration.