Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Urban Challenges

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched by the government on 2 October 2014 with an aim to accelerate efforts to focus on universal sanitation in the country. It is to be noted that this mission is being executed by two different ministries – Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation for rural areas and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for urban areas. The main reason for dividing the campaign into two parts is that both areas (rural and urban) have different hygiene requirements, which require different approaches. The problem of open defecation, whose elimination is the primary objective of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, is not limited to rural India alone. While the implementation of complete sanitation is a major challenge in rural India, there are some serious challenges on the urban sanitation front, which need to be addressed from a different perspective.


  • In general terms, cleanliness refers to the state of being free from germs, dirt, garbage and waste.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WTO), sanitation refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe management of human waste. In general, sanitation also involves the safe management of solid waste and animal waste.

Clean India Movement

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched from Rajghat, New Delhi on 2 October 2014 on the occasion of the 145th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Purpose of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

  • To eliminate the problem of open defecation in India i.e. declaring the entire country free from open defecation (ODF), construction of toilets in every house, water supply and solid and liquid waste in a proper way Have to manage.
  • The objective of this campaign is to clean the roads and footpaths, remove encroachments from unauthorized areas, eradicate manual scavenging and bring positive changes in people’s behavior regarding hygiene practices.
  • The campaign consists of two sub-campaigns, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Rural) and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Urban). In this, where ‘Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation’ and ‘Ministry of Rural Development’ are connected for rural areas, Urban Development Ministry is responsible for cities.
urban areas

Villages are different from cities

According to the statistics of 2017, about 66 percent of the country’s population lives in rural areas and the biggest challenge in moving such a large population towards complete sanitation was to change the mindset of the people so that they do not defecate in open areas rather than domestic Use the toilets. Due to the rural mentality, most of the houses there did not have toilets, hence the components of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan for rural areas focus on the construction of toilets as well as information, education and communication-IEC activities. Centering was also included. It is worth mentioning that in rural areas there is less need for a dedicated sewerage network, as all the toilets which are present there are connected to the house soak pit. Apart from this, household waste is also better managed in rural areas as it is done domestically, so most of its part is used in the fields. Thus it can be said that improving the sanitation level of rural area is much less complicated than in urban area.

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Urban areas challenge

  • Currently, urban areas are mainly facing 2 challenges:
  • Disposal of solid and liquid waste
  • Management of sewerage in urban areas
  • It is worth mentioning that the disposal of solid waste consists of 3 major components: (1) collection of waste materials, (2) transfer of waste and (3) proper disposal in landfill area. Both waste collection and its relocation to the landfill site require manpower as well as an efficient transportation system.

swachh bharat

  • It is to be noted that in most urban areas, disposal of solid waste is mainly the responsibility of the municipalities. However, there is no denying the fact that many municipalities in the country are struggling with shortage of manpower, financial resources and technology to fulfill their obligations. Most municipalities depend on state governments for resources.
  • The second challenge is to manage sewerage in urban areas. Only toilets cannot solve the problem as proper sewerage network is also needed in urban areas.
  • Most Indian urban metros are using sewage systems that were built decades ago and still follow the pattern of transporting sewage to rivers or canals. It is notable that 70 percent of India’s urban sewage is untreated. Due to decades of age, many sewages have a problem of eutrophication.
  • Many experts believe that India’s sewage treatment plants (STPs) are more of a curse than a boon for Indians, as statistics show that more than 35 percent of the total STPs in the country are useless.
  • Since we are using several decades old sewage system, it is also not able to meet the current requirements.
  • The soak pit which is used in rural areas may not function due to lack of space in urban areas and increasing population density.
  • If we look at the strategy adopted for the Swachh Bharat Mission in urban areas, it mainly focuses on individual household toilets, community toilets and IEC activities.
  • The fund earmarked for solid waste management is relatively minimal, which is hindering achieving the objective of complete sanitation. Similarly, the provision of funds for sewerage network is also very less.
swachh bharat mission urban
  • There is a shortage of space in the urban metros and towns of India, due to which urban municipalities often face difficulties in finding adequate space to build toilets.
  • Construction of individual household toilets is a major challenge due to the many unauthorized colonies and settlements in metros like Delhi, Pune and Mumbai.
  • It is noteworthy that the country’s urban population is also increasing and according to the United Nations, India’s urban population will increase from the current 330 million to 830 million by the year 2040.
  • According to official figures, the total cost of Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) is Rs 62,000 crore, of which one-fourth was to be borne by the Central Government and the rest by the State Governments and local municipal bodies. But the situation of the local municipal bodies of the country is not hidden from anyone and hence it becomes difficult for them to pay some part of the cost, due to which the projects are stopped.
  • For example, in the year 2016, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi could not start work on any project related to Swachh Bharat, because it lacked the necessary finance to meet its contribution.
  • Another problem in the guidelines of Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) is that it provides finance for the construction of toilets in private houses, but does not mention any kind of funding for the construction of public toilets. is.

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Road ahead

  • There is a need to renovate the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), focusing on solid waste and sewer management. So that the challenges present in the cities can be uniquely addressed.
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs should ask the State Governments to assess their capabilities in handling waste, so that a framework can be prepared keeping in mind the strengths and shortcomings of each state.
  • Governments should take care of the capacity of local bodies for collection and disposal of waste and try to meet the necessary financial resources.
  • Municipalities can be given an opportunity to increase their revenue.
  • Separate funds should also be allocated for the development of landfill areas.
  • Also, the best efforts being made for waste collection and disposal in major cities of the country should be studied and followed.
  • It is important to note that till we are not able to systematically lift the waste from the roads, cleanliness will have no meaning.

The conclusion

The challenges of sanitation in urban India are different from those of rural India on many fronts. The problem of location, demographics, behavior and finance is the same in both urban and rural India, but the nature of the problem is different in the two regions. Therefore, to ensure the overall success of Swachh Bharat, the problems of the two regions need to be addressed separately.

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