NEW DELHI: India has improved its basic sanitation facilities substantially, home to almost two thirds of the global population who abandoned the practice open defecation between 2000 and 2017, India has seen a big change. However, United Nations (UN) organisation released a monitoring report on June 18, showing that there has been absolutely no growth in the population with access to piped water facilities over the aforementioned period, while the inequalities and differences still remain between rural and urban areas.
Considering drinking water, the Joint Monitoring Programme report by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that, from 79 per cent in 2000 to 93 per cent in 2017, India has increased the percentage of its population with access to a protected drinking water source less than 30 minutes away. Whereas, the percentage of households getting piped water has remained unchanged at 44 per cent over the 17 year period.
Parameswaran Iyer, Drinking Water and Sanitation secretary, Government of India, said, “Drinking water is now the highest priority of the development agenda for this government.” The outlines of a new scheme, tentatively called ‘Nal Se Jal’, are being drafted this month.
Although, India has shown betterment in sanitation in the country. The country has contributed significantly in dragging the world towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of ending open defecation almost single-handedly. The report mentions that the South Asian region, including India, accounted for almost three-fourths of the population who stopped defecating in the open between 2000 and 2017. Of the total 2.1 billion people who gained access to basic sanitation services over this time period of 17 years in the world, 486 million reside in India.
“India’s ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ has been an example and inspiration to other countries, especially in Africa, but also East and South Asia. Nigeria sent a delegation to study the programme…We believe our programme had four reasons for its success that we can share with the rest of the world: political leadership, public financing, partnerships and people’s participation,” said Iyer.
However, hundreds of new toilets built under the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ scheme produces large amounts of solid and liquid waste and India, currently, does not have enough to treat and dispose of safely. The UN report reads, only 30 per cent of the country’s wastewater is treated at plants providing at least secondary treatment, in comparison to an 80 per cent global average.
Putting forward few words to justify the statement, Iyer said, “Solid and liquid waste management will be the focus of Swachh Bharat phase 2. We will launch the roadmap and strategy for that programme next month.”