States have to work in tandem with the Central Govt. towards the goal of dignified : Bharatsinh Madhavsinh Solanki
INVC,, Delhi,, A two day National Consultation with State Ministers and Secretaries in charge of Rural Sanitation on implementation of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan organised by the Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation concluded in New Delhi today. The Minister of Drinking Water & Sanitation Shri Bharatsinh Solanki chaired the National Consultations with State Ministers and Principal Secretaries/ Secretaries in charge of Rural Sanitation. Shri Solanki addressing the press briefing at the conclusion of the national consultation on implementation of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan said that the goal of 100 percent Open Defecation Free Country set under NBA must be achieved much earlier than the targeted time of 2022. He said the States have to work in tandem with the Central Govt. towards the goal of dignified and hygienic living environment in the Rural India along with Urban India. The Minister in his address on the occasion said that Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) launched in the first year of the 12th Five year Plan attempts to make a drastic change in the construction and use of sanitation facilities by the rural population. Several measures have been initiated to popularise and bring in sanitation to the mainstream. Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan has brought in several changes in the sanitation programme firstly by widening the provision of incentives so as to extend the facility not only to the BPL families but also to identified APL households belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Small and marginal farmers, landless labourers with homesteads, physically challenged and women headed households, the Minister said. Open defecation is a big problem for the country particularly in the rural areas. The Government in the past has been, particularly from the mid-eighties, promoting rural sanitation by providing subsidies for construction of sanitary latrines. The programme received impetus in late nineties with the launch of the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC). Despite the sustained efforts by the Government of India, the problem of open defecation remains a big one leading to insanitary living conditions, poor health and undignified life for rural communities as revealed by the 2011 census data. The problem of open defecation poses bigger problems for women and children. Therefore, the TSC programme has now been revamped in 2012 as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan which aims at making the country open defecation free by 2022. The revamping will result in accelerated sanitation coverage as most of the rural population belonging to both BPL and APL category will be able to take advantage of NBA. Also the unit project cost to individual household latrine has been increased to Rs.10,000 by tapping resources from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan Programme. The National Conference of State Ministers and State Secretaries was convened with a view to brainstorm together with the States on how to make the country open defecation free. The DWS Ministry have received valuable suggestions from the States, experts in the field, NGOs and other stakeholders and will seriously consider these inputs to improve the programmes. Minister of Drinking Water & Sanitation Shri Bharatsinh Solanki said on the occasion that one of the most important things that can actually improve the sanitation in the country is to increase awareness about the hazards of open defecation amongst the people and to bring about behavioural changes among them at the grass root level. The media has a big role to play in improving the situation. He made an appeal to the media to increase their coverage on this very important but somewhat unglamorous subject that would help make people aware of the hazards of open defecation and help increase the demand for proper sanitation. This will go a long way in making the country open defecation free by 2022. Rural sanitation came into focus in the Government of India in the World Water Decade of 1980s. The Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP) was started in 1986 to provide sanitation facilities in rural areas. It was simply a supply driven, highly subsidy and infrastructure oriented programme. As a result of deficiencies and low financial allocations, the CRSP had very little impact on the gargantuan problem. The experience of community –driven, awareness-generating campaign based programme in some states and the results of evaluation of CRSP, led to the formulation of Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) approach in 1999. In 2012, the TSC has been revamped as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA), which has been launched with modified guidelines and objectives to further accelerate sanitation coverage in the rural areas so as to comprehensively cover the rural community with renewed strategies. NBA has brought major changes in the rural sanitation programme by widening the provision of incentive for individual household latrine units to cover identified Above Poverty Line (APL) households who belong to Scheduled Castes (SC) /Scheduled Tribes (ST), small and marginal farmers, landless labourers with homesteads, physically challenged and women headed households along-with all Below Poverty Line (BPL) households .Under NBA, incentive has been increased to Rs 4600 ( Rs 3200 from Centre + Rs 1400 from State) + (Rs 500 extra for hilly and difficult areas from Centre). Additional financial assistance upto Rs 4500/- per IHHL has been provided in convergence with Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for all eligible beneficiaries. Through visits, feedback and review meetings, it is learnt that the implementation of NBA in convergence with MNREGS has not been fully streamlined as yet and States are facing some difficulties in operationalising the convergence. The main objectives of the National Consultation meeting was to provide a forum for the participation of the political leadership at State level, State Secretaries, District and field functionaries, NGOs and international resource agencies to discuss various issues linked with implementation of NBA and to identify changes, modification for up-scaling the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan for making India a Nirmal Bharat . The discussion lasting two days focused Mainly on Review of States physical and financial progress after launch of NBA; Review of implementation of NBA-MGNREGS convergence; Implementation of new NGP guidelines, Review of Sanitation Monitoring Framework; Review of Strategies for Strengthening IEC activities; Review of role of NGOs and international resource agencies; Time line for 100% Open Defecation Free etc.