The Centre has directed states to start levying fines for littering, open defecation and public urination by April 30 as the NDA government’s flagship Swachh Bharat Mission has failed to have the desired effect in urban areas.
Littering or urinating in public places could invite penalties ranging between Rs 200 and Rs 5,000. In a communication to all chief secretaries, the urban development ministry has asked states to impose penalties in at least one ward in each city by April 30, all wards in 10-15 cities by the end of the year and all wards in all cities by September 30, 2018.
The ministry has set a strict time frame for states to provide an adequate number of public toilets and ensure facilities for garbage collection. States have been told to ensure there are public toilets, door-to-door garbage collection facilities and adequate dustbins at public places in wards where the fines kick in.
Sanitation experts said fines should have been preceded by adequate sanitation facilities.
“Ideally, the government should have provided adequate sanitation facilities before imposing fines. But the problem of open defecation has become so pervasive in our cities that a beginning has to be made somewhere,” Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of public toilet chain Sulabh International, said.
According to norms set by the ministry’s central public health and environmental engineering organisation, there should be one toilet serving each kilometre stretch of road in cities and an equal number of facilities should cater to women and men.
“But, the norm is hardly adhered to. In any metro city, you have to travel for kilometres to come across a public toilet. Those for women are even rarer,” a government official said.
Since last year, Rajasthan has been levying fines for littering and incorrect garbage disposal — Rs 200 for urinating at a public place, Rs 5,000 for improperly disposing cow dung, Rs 2,000 per day for restaurants disposing waste in the open and Rs 2,000 for littering. The ministry wants the Rajasthan model replicated nationwide.