Cleaning the Mess in India
Sanitation and garbage disposal are two major areas that lend a bad name to India and cause ill-health besides making the urbanscape squalid. The issue is gathering a lot of focus these days. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the issue from the ramparts of the Lal Qila on August 15 this year on the eve of Independence Day. The mess around our cities not only causes health and hygiene issues, but also reduces the visual appeal for prospective tourists. Besides it brings down the value as a destination for investment, and for those looking at Indian universities and hospitals. Some of the facts and figures can illustrate the problems.
Major Indian cities generates 1,27,486 metric tons of garbage or what is called Municipal solid waste (MSW) everyday.
Thirteen of the top 20 dirtiest cities across the globe are in India, according to WHO statistics.
Only 12 of the 497 cities with one-lakh plus population have anything like adequate infrastructure to deal with garbage and human and organic waste.
Nearly 20,000 people die every year due to diseases spread by rodents and stray dogs feeding off garbage dumps.
Every city living Indian generates half a kilogram of waste every day. On festival days, this quantity doubles.
But on an average day, 40% of the garbage remains from being collected by the safai karamchari (or scavengers). Thus garbage heaps keep on growing on sidewalks, transformer cages and unoccupied lands.
Waste generated in some big cities
Chennai: 6404 mt
Bangalore: 5,000 mt
Calcutta 12,060 mt
Mumbai: 11600 mt.
Ahmedabad: 4,200 mt. (Pirana landfill has 1.96 lakh mt. of accumulated garbage.
Our dismissiveness about the garbage will not work. One should not thumbnose at the suggestion of the topic.
597 million people defecate in the open.
Two out of every three rural households have no access to toilets. Less than 12% homes have latrines connected to a piped sewer system.
The 2011 Census says there are 53.1% households without a toilet in India. (Five north Indian states have the worst record. The proportion of households without a latrine in UP is 64%, Madhya Pradesh 71.2%, West Bengal 41.2%, Bihar 76.9%, and Andhra Pradesh 50.%.)
India fares poorly in comparison to its neighbours with Bangladesh recording only 3% of its households without latrines, China 1% and Pakistan 23%.
It is claimed that since 2001, toilets have been built in 97 million households.
The Ministry for Drinking Water and Sanitation says $3 billion have been spent on constructing toilets across the country since 1986. The Indian Government is now gearing up to spend an additional $31 billion (i.e., Rs. 1.96 lakh crore on building another 100 million toilets in rural areas in rural areas.
A survey by SQUAT in five north Indian states, says 40% of households with a newly built toilet, a member of the family was still defecating in the open. (Cultural conditioning and traditions are said to be the reason in people avoiding use of toilets within their houses.). Less than half of people who own a government latrine use it regularly. Half of people who defecate in the open say that they do so because it is pleasurable, comfortable and convenient.
India plans construction of 11.11 toilets in five years tenure of the Prime Minister.
A swachch Bharath Mission has been planned to ensure hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the country.
Major National Initiatives to Clean up India in the past
Oct. 2, 1969: Mahatma Gandhi Birth Centenary Day: to end manual scavenging
Jan. 14, 1985: Launched by then PM Rajeev Gandhi, Ganga Action Plan
1986: Launched during the prime ministership of Rajeev Gandhi; Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan(It was previously called Total Sanitation Campaign): Objective : to eliminate defecation in open by 2017.
(Source: Data gathered from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, http://squatreport.in/ etc. )