Ravinder Kumar’s killing over public urination is a blow to Swachh Bharat | editorials | Hindustan Times
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Ravinder Kumar’s killing over public urination is a blow to Swachh Bharat

As 60% of open defecation in the country takes place in rural areas, the thrust of the Narendra Modi government has been only on rural audiences. According to official data , the government allocated just Rs 7,290 crore to the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban, which is just 18% of the total allocation

editorials Updated: Jun 23, 2017 19:17 IST
Ravinder Kumar, a 31-year-old e-rickshaw driver, was beaten to death in Delhi after he objected to two people relieving themselves in public and directed them to a public toilet
Ravinder Kumar, a 31-year-old e-rickshaw driver, was beaten to death in Delhi after he objected to two people relieving themselves in public and directed them to a public toilet

It was a senseless act of violence and a blow to the spirit of the Swachh Bharat Mission. On May 27, Ravinder Kumar, a 31-year-old e-rickshaw driver, was beaten to death in Delhi after he objected to two people relieving themselves in public and directed them to a public toilet barely five metres away. Was Kumar a victim of the scant disregard for public decency and hygiene that is widespread in our cities? That appears to be the case.

While the government has put all its might behind the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), a sanitation scheme focused on urban sanitation was launched with the ambitious objective of making the country open-defecation-free by 2019 and eradication of manual scavenging, people seem to still reluctant to use toilets even when they are available. Over the last three years, close to 2.09 crore toilets have been built. Understandably, since 60% of open defecation in the country takes place in rural areas, the thrust of the government as well as its publicity programmes has been on rural audiences. According to official data on the SBM analysed by The Accountability Initiative of the Centre for Policy Research for the period October 2014 to 2017-18, the government allocated just Rs 7,290 crore to the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban, which is just 18% of the total allocation. The allocation to Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin is much higher at Rs 33,823 crore. If we look at actual spending, the government spent Rs 18,513 crore on Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin and just Rs 3,410 crore on Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban that is only 16% of total expenditure.

Building household toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission (urban) runs into a number of challenges such as property tenure rights, sludge disposal issues and above all, a change in mindsets, which is not easy to achieve. A dual strategy of raising awareness and as well as deterring those who shed civic sense and propriety in the public is the need of the hour.