Sanitation Development

Asha Sarangi and Lipika Ravichandran, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Relevance of the Practice

Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) has been selected as a relevant practice here because it caters to the public health through sanitation and hygiene of both the rural and urban population across India. This program, apart from people’s participation, also ensures people’s responsibilities and devolution of power at grass root levels. It targets issues such as solid waste management, open defecation, and sanitation etc.

Description of the Practice

Sanitation is part of the Directive Principles of State Policy under the Indian Constitution. Article 47 directs the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health as among its primary duties. The mission is aimed at progressing towards target 6.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals Number 6 established by the United Nations in 2015.

The mission was split into two: rural and urban. In rural areas ‘SBM – Gramin’ was financed and monitored through the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation; whereas ‘SBM – urban’ was overseen by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. As part of the campaign, volunteers, known as Swachhagrahis, or ‘Ambassadors of Cleanliness’, promoted indoor plumbing and community approaches to sanitation (CAS) at the village level. Other activities included national real-time monitoring and updates from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as The Ugly Indian, Waste Warriors, and SWaCH Pune (Solid Waste Collection and Handling). Urban Solid Waste Management starts from each household level by segregation of domestic waste as degradable and non-degradable. Responsibility at individual level is achieved by penal actions in the form of fines. In this regard, the urban local bodies (ULBs) can enact their own bylaws to penalize those who do not segregate their domestic waste.

Swachh Bharat Mission for urban and rural areas focuses on issues like the elimination of open defecation, conversion of unsanitary toilets into flush toilets, eradication of manual scavenging, managing municipal solid waste management, and bringing about a behavioral change among people regarding health sanitary practices. Furthermore, this mission also ensures that technology will be used on a large scale to convert waste into usable energy, and large scale community toilets will be built and provided at affordable costs to the users. 

The practice of Open Defecation in rural areas can be abolished only through systemic changes through both institutional and individual initiatives. In this regard, the gram sabhas play a pivotal role through awareness and explaining the benefits of using toilets. In this way the gram sabhas perform the last mile service in delivery of central government policies.

Assessment of the Practice

Swachh Survekshan is an annual survey of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation in cities and towns across India. It was launched as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which aimed to make India clean and free of open defecation by 2nd October 2019. The first survey was undertaken in 2016 and covered 73 cities; by 2020 the survey had grown to cover 4242 cities and was said to be the largest cleanliness survey in the world. In a bid to scale up the coverage of the ranking exercise and encourage towns and cities to actively implement mission initiatives in a timely and innovative manner, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is now in the process of conducting the sixth edition of the survey to rank all cities under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) with Quality Council of India (QCI) as its implementation partner.

The objective of the survey is to encourage large scale citizen participation, ensure sustainability of initiatives taken towards garbage free and open defecation free cities, provide credible outcomes which would be validated by third party certification, institutionalize existing systems through online processes and create awareness amongst all sections of society about the importance of working together towards making towns and cities more habitable and sustainable. Additionally, the survey also intends to foster a spirit of healthy competition amongst towns and cities to improve their service delivery to citizens and move towards creating cleaner cities.

MoHUA& QCI will conduct intensive virtual interactions with States and ULBs to familiarize them with various facets of the survey such as survey methodology, survey process and indicators, amongst others, while also clarifying their expectations from the survey.

Swachh Survekshan, commissioned by the Ministry of Urban Development and carried out by the Quality Council of India, is an extensive sanitation survey across several hundred cities to check the progress and impact of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and to foster a spirit of competition among the cities. The performance of each city is evaluated on the following parameters:

  • municipal solid waste, sweeping, collection and transportation;
  • municipal solid waste, processing, and disposal of solid waste;
  • open defecation free and toilets;
  • capacity building and eLearning;
  • provision of public toilets and community toilets;
  • information, education and communication, and behavior change.

In Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the outcomes have surpassed the targets through community participation, robust implementation of policies by the local governments. For example, the construction of individual household latrines (IHHL)has achieved 105 per cent and community and public toilets has achieved 117 per cent.

References to Scientific and Non-Scientific Publications

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—— ‘People’s Participation in Governance and Development’ (IGNOU 2019)       <>

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Alam SM and Alam MN, ‘Good Governance and Employment Generation through MGNREGA’ (2014) 2 International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management 1

Breitkreuz R and others, ‘The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme: A Policy Solution to Rural Poverty in India?’ (2017) 35 Development Policy Review 397

Datta P and Sen PB, ‘Participatory Rural Governance in India’ (2000) 46 Indian Journal of Public Administration 38

Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, ‘Dashboard’ (Swachh Bharat Mission, undated) <>

Desai S, Vashishtha P and Joshi O, ‘Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: A Catalyst for Rural Transformation’ (working paper no 7259, National Council of Applied Economic Research2015)

Gaventa J and Valderrama C, ‘Participation, Citizenship and Local Governance’ (background note, Strengthening Participation in Local Governance Workshop, vol 21, University of Sussex 1999)

Haque T, ‘Socio-Economic Impact of Implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in India’ (2011) 41 Social Change 445

Joseph TM (ed), Local Governance in India: Ideas, Challenges, and Strategies (Concept Publishing Company 2007)

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, ‘Dashboard’ (Swachh Bharat Mission Urban, undated) <>

Sheikh YA, ‘People’s Participation in Local Governance in India’ (2014) 3 Review of Research Journal

Sivaramakrishnan KC (ed), People’s Participation in Urban Governance: A Comparative Study of the Working of Wards Committees in Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and West Bengal (Concept Publishing Company 2006)

Vij N, ‘Collaborative Governance: Analysing Social Audits in MGNREGA in India’ (2011) 42 IDS Bulletin 28