Swachh Bharat Mission

[op-ed snap] Silent revolution in the countryside


Mains Paper 2: Governance|  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics of SBA, Swachh Survekshan

Mains level: The newscard discusses SBA achievements and shortcomings, in a brief manner.


The Government of India had launched “Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban)” on 2nd October, 2014 with the following objectives:-

  • Eliminate open defecation,
  • Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets,
  • Eradication of manual scavenging,
  • 100% collection and scientific processing/disposal reuse/recycle of Municipal Solid Waste,
  • To bring about a behavioral change in people regarding healthy sanitation practices,
  • Generate awareness among the citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health.
  • Strengthening of urban local bodies to design, execute and operate systems,
  • To create enabling environment for private sector participation in Capital Expenditure and Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs.

The Mission has following components:-

  • Construction of Household Toilets,
  • Community and Public Toilets,
  • Solid Waste Management,
  • Information, Education & Communication (IEC) and Public Awareness,
  • Capacity Building and Administrative & Office Expenses (A&OE).



  1. Increased Coverage
  • Since October 2014, 91.5 million toilets have been constructed and 154.3 million rural households have toilets now.
  • Survey Conducted by the World Bank, the survey found that 77 per cent of households (between November 2017 and March 2018) had access to toilets (not the same as possessing individual household toilets) and 93.4 per cent of people who had access to toilets used them.
  1. Out of the 541,433 villages declared as ODF, 438,342 have been verified to be ODF. There can be a two part answer.
  2. First, that the 2017-18 survey again shows 95.6 per cent villages declared and verified as ODF continued to remain ODF. T
  3. here is some slippage, but not as much as one might have thought.
  4. Use of media and campaigns like “DarwazaBandh” have led to behavior change and public awareness of the need for sanitation.
  5. The Swachh Bharat urban and rural projects have set-off healthy competition among cities and districts.
  6. SHGs, NGOs and popular icons have pitched in and the results are showing in the form of a record number of sustainable toilets, open defecation-free towns, schools with gender specific toilets and decrease in water borne diseases in ODF villages and towns.
  7. Making functional toilets a compulsory qualification for contesting panchayat elections in Haryana and Rajasthan shows the determination to achieve the dream
  8. The dropout rate of females from schools and colleges is decreasing and those that had left have come to school after construction of toilets.
  9. The spread of communicable diseases has seen a downward trend in villages that have performed well in SBM.


  1. Swachha Bharat Kosh, a fund created for SBM programs hasn’t taken off well.
  2. Private participation by way of CSR is less as interested private companies do not have detailed project report.
  3. Most of the money is going towards latrine construction, and very little towards information, education, and communication.
  4. No Proper facilities for disposal of human solid waste.
  5. Villages don’t have sewage systems because of which pit-latrines are constructed. which require manual scavengers to pick up the faeces, or for faeces to be washed away and potentially pollute water sources.
  6. Mission is still struggling in bringing behavioral changes in rural population, i.e. World Bank research states that-
  • “A staggering 48 per cent of Indians continue to defecate in the open despite large scale efforts from the government to raise awareness about the harmful aspects of open defecation and subsidise latrine construction, and growing latrine ownership.

Way Forward

  1. Sanitation needs to be seen as a life cycle issue and hence providing sanitation facilities at work, education and other public spaces is important.
  2. This requires investing in the right place at the right time and in the most appropriate manner.
  3. The SBM should not become yet another government scheme that makes the right noises initially only to die a quiet death once the spotlight moves away.
  4. SBM is definitely with great goals and objectives, the issues associated with finance, implementation & awareness needs to be tackled in the right manner, every citizen of India should involve themselves and inculcate the behavioural changes to the literates and the illiterates towards cleanliness respectively.


Swachh Survekshan

  • Swachh Survekshan is a ranking exercise taken up by the Government of India to assess rural and urban areas for their levels of cleanliness and active implementation of Swachhata mission initiatives in a timely and innovative manner.
  • The objective of the survey is to encourage large scale citizen participation and create awareness amongst all sections of society about the importance of working together towards making towns and cities a better place to live in. Additionally, the survey also intends to foster a spirit of healthy competition among towns and cities to improve their service delivery to citizens, towards creating cleaner cities and towns.
  • The Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India takes up the SwachhSurvekshan in urban areas and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in rural areas.
  • The Quality Council of India (QCI) has been commissioned the responsibility of carrying out the assessment.


  1. Swachhagrahis are the foot soldiers of the SBM (G) and the motivators for bringing about behaviour change with respect to key sanitation practices in rural areas.
  2. Role of swachhagrahis is one of the key factors in achieving the ODF status and sustaining it through post ODF activities.
  3. A swachhagrahi is a volunteer who can come from any background, including a local ASHA worker, ANM, anganwadi worker, and staff, water line man, pump operator, member of NCO/CSOs, youth organisations or from the general public living in villages.”
  4. Beyond the obvious, there are several things swachhagrahis do – geo-tagging toilets, verifying household behaviour, converting old toilets and retro-fitting them, engaging in other forms of cleanliness.
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