The urban leg of Swachh Bharat Mission could be going to the cleaners as the Centre and the states have yet to clean up their act on the funding pattern to sustain the Rs 62,009 crore programme.
The mission launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi more than two months ago to encourage cleanliness in cities and to build loos to discourage defecation in the open in urban India is stuck in loose ends over guidelines which are still being prepared, and without which the urban development ministry cannot approve any project related to the drive.
Officials said the urban ministry, piloting the programme in cities and towns, hasn’t approved a single proposal because the guidelines were still in the draft stage and have not come out of the confines of the boardroom despite umpteenth meetings to sort out funding ambiguities among the three stakeholders — the Centre (contributing Rs 14,623 crore), state governments (Rs 4,874 crore) and the private sector (Rs 42,512 crore).
The states were unhappy with the Centre’s share, which they felt was too low. They said it would be difficult for them to pool in their share, citing poor financial health.
“We also have feedback that the private sector, which will have to foot the largest chunk of the bill, might not come forward as expected with a huge investment. The revenue model has to be sustainable to attract private funding,” an official said.
To break the deadlock, the Centre has proposed to offer viability gap funding or a system to bridge shortfall in finances to the tune of 40% and 20% respectively to the private sector for building and maintaining toilets and for solid waste management projects.
“But at meetings we were told that the 20% offer for solid waste management project might not be enough to lure private players,” the official said.
Besides, the Centre has proposed a Swacch Bharat Kosh, a corpus to finance the mission.
Without the guidelines, no state can prepare or submit its proposal. “The guidelines have to spell out details, such as how the money would be routed, whether the money for the proposal should be released directly to the state government or urban local bodies, who will approve the project. There is a lot of ambiguity,” said the official.
He said the guidelines could be ready by this year-end for the mission’s urban leg, which proposes to provide individual as well as public toilets and solid waste management facilities across 4,041 towns and cities by 2019.