Holistic approach to sanitation issues

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Holistic approach to sanitation issues

Only by more effectively addressing the value chain, can we achieve universal sustainable sanitation access and make Swachch Bharat mission a grand success

On October 2, 2014, the Government of India launched the Swachch Bharat Mission towards achieving a Clean and Open Defecation Free India by 2019. The mission has been successful in bringing to the fore key issues in the areas of sanitation and solid waste management. As the mission has entered its third year, significant progress has been made across the 4041 cities and towns, with innovative approaches being adopted to not only improve service delivery but also make the project a jan andolan. This is reflected in the physical progress achieved under the mission until now, which includes the construction of 29,18,669 individual household toilets and 1,10,665 community and public toilets across all cities and towns.

With 475 cities certified Open Defecation Free (ODF), it is equally critical to put our efforts towards the safe collection, treatment and disposal of all human waste that is collected from onsite sanitation systems such as septic tanks, in order to achieve safe, sustainable sanitation for all.

To address this issue, the Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry is committed to helping States and cities make rapid improvements in managing their faecal sludge, and has launched the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, which focuses on the provision of sewerage facilities and septage management in 500 cities across the country. States and cities have been urged to include a Feacal Sludge and Septic Management (FSSM) plan as part of their AMRUT State Level Implementation Plans. Further, it is heartening to see cities taking the next step in becoming open defecation-free by taking up initiatives in the area of FSSM, as part of the Swachch Bharat Mission. The States of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Odisha have already released State-level Septage Management policies to ensure proper FSSM in their respective cities. I urge other States to lead by example as well.

To put our best efforts forward to implement faecal sludge management initiatives, there area variety of roles that multiple stakeholders must play. While city officials have the mandate to ensure service provision and implementation partners can share technical expertise, there is also an opportunity for the private sector to provide FSSM services in urban India. Only through such a collaborative multi-stakeholder approach can we make India Swachch and open defecation free.

As a part of our sustained efforts, we are delighted to have also been one of the main hosts and conveners of the fourth international Faecal Sludge Management (FSM4) Conference, which recently concluded in Chennai. Building on the success of the first three editions, FSM4 brought together those working in the sector from across the globe, including city and district managers, Governments, academics, scientists, utilities, service providers, consultants, donors and industries, to support the global initiative of collaborating oninnovative, sustainable solutions for FSSM that can be scaled up.

I appeal to all officials across cities and States, and others working in the urban sanitation sector to work together to continue to increase our efforts in incorporating adequate FSSM solutions and making it a part of the sanitation service delivery mechanism across urban India. Only by addressing the complete sanitation value chain, can we achieve universal sustainable sanitation access.

(The writer is Union Cabinet Minister for Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation)

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