Fund constraints won’t come in the way of the Swachh Bharat Mission, a programme aimed at making India clean and open defecation-free by 2019.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley has ensured this by announcing a whopping Rs 11,300 crore for the programme in the 2015-16 Budget. While Rs 9,000 crore of the sum was earmarked for the drinking water and sanitation ministry, the authority responsible for implementing the programme in rural areas, just Rs 2,300 crore was received by the urban development ministry, which is spearheading the cleanliness drive in cities and towns.
Describing cleanliness as a subject that was very close to Mahatma Gandhi’s heart, Jaitley said, “For the first time since Independence, Parliament has held a comprehensive debate on sanitation… We have even introduced ranking of urban areas in this regard.”
The rural leg of the cleanliness programme received a 150% increase in the budget – from Rs 3,600 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 9,000 crore in 2016-17. This comes in the backdrop of the government raising the target for building toilets from 90,000 lakh to 1.25 crore per year.
However, the urban development ministry received just Rs 2,300 crore in the 2016-17 Budget as against the Rs 5,000 crore it sought from the finance ministry.
Nearly 12 crore toilets are expected be built in rural areas by 2019, 95.23 lakh of which have already been completed. On the other hand, while the urban development ministry is supposed to build 1.04 crore individual household toilets in urban areas by 2019, only 8.8 lakh had been set up till December 2015.