Swachh Survekshan: A Hit Or A Miss?

In 2016, in the wake of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, in order to motivate states to maintain a cleaner and more hygienic environment, Swacfh Survekshan was launched. It is the annual nationwide-survey of cleanliness, sanitation, and basic hygiene standards. The first survey in 2016 had only covered 73 cities. However, by 2019, more than 4000 cities were being included. The exercise is carried out by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).

How is the survey conducted?

The survey is conducted for each quarter based on monthly evaluations. Every month, the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban online Management Information System (MIS) is updated. This updation is made with citizen validation on the 12-service level progress indicator. Each quarterly assessment holds 25% weightage in the annual survey.
There are two divisions for cities, one with a population of 1-10 lakh and the other with population >10 lakh. For cities with a population less than 1 lakh, the evaluation is done based on zones i.e. North, West, East, South, and North-east.

What are the challenges involved?

Cleanliness and sanitation are charges that fall on the state governments. However, so far, not much has seen improvement. Competition does not help the cause immediately without large scale infrastructural and legislative steps taken towards improving waste management across the country. Right now, a lot of weightage is being given to token changes and symbolism. However, that does not change much in the long term. There is a lack of effective infrastructure, legal requirements, and technical audits when it comes to sanitation.

How is the government meeting the challenges?

MoHUA has taken up the ambitious task of 100% safe processing and disposal of waste and complete fecal sludge and septage management. This, although a massive endeavor, is the first right step.

MoHUA has also sanctioned funds towards Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) that states can access to meet their infrastructure needs. MoHUA has also clarified that a high weightage will be given to sustainable and ecologically sound management when ranking the cities.

Way Forward

Worldwide, a circular economy centered around the principle of “reuse, reduce, recycle” is being emphasized. The center needs to aid states with funding for creating a futuristic and technologically advanced infrastructure that not only manages waste but also emphasizes on recycling it to produce goods. This will lead to reduced pressure on natural resources while helping the Indian economy grow. Swachh Survekshan is just one step towards that end goal.

Question for UPSC Mains:
With regards to Indian cities competing in Swachh Survekshan, discuss the current direction India is taking when it comes to sustainable waste management and sanitation practices.

Published: January 3, 2020 | Modified:January 3, 2020

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