Sanitation -Time to Focus

By Dr Rana Singh

Sanitation in India has been an area of concern since a long time. The newly announced mission by the Honourable Prime Minister is expected to give the required fillip to the domain of sanitation in India. The biggest challenge in front of the government, bureaucracy and the stakeholders from all walks of life is to provide sanitation facilities to the exponentially burgeoning population. This challenge is increasing at an increasing pace due to exponential rate of growth of population and high rate of inflation which goes on increasing the cost of creation of the sanitation facilities.

The menace of acute shortage and sub optimal availability of sanitation facilities in various states of India should be done with concerted efforts of the central government, state governments, and various stakeholders from different walks of life. I take this opportunity to appreciate and thank the initiative of our visionary Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji for replacing the planning commission with NITI, inviting the various states as a part of the Planning and transformation process of the nation, and inviting an eminent economist of global repute i.e.

Dr. Arvind Panagariya as the founding Vice Chairman of NITI. I am sure that the newly created NITI will sincerely strive towards transforming various sectors and domains including sanitation.

The government should evolve a multi pronged approach to combat the sub optimal availability of sanitation facilities. This may include allocation of required budgetary resources to ensure sufficient public and/or private sanitation facilities for the various strata of the society, asking the MPs to mandatorily allocate a stipulated percentage of MPLADS scheme for Development of sanitation facilities, develop PPP model to create sufficient sanitation facilities, provide soft loans and ensure construction of sanitation facilities, provide financial and non financial incentives to the weaker section of the society, and consider setting up of dedicated R&D facilities for evolving low cost high efficiency sanitation facilities.

The challenge of sanitation has to battled at the level of people, process and technology. The education and sensitisation of the common masses about the importance of sanitation and allied dimensions is very important. The utilisation of mass media to sensitise the common masses will go a long way in achieving the desired end results. The government may also consider creation of a national body which shall be entrusted with the dedicated responsibility of creation and maintenance of optimum level of sanitation facilities in various parts of the country.

The government may consider providing financial and non financial incentives to various stakeholders contributing to the mission of improving the sanitation facilities. The government may also consider announcing various awards at various levels from the national level to the taluka level.

The corporates may consider according high priority on creation and maintenance of optimal level of sanitation facilities for one and all in the nearby areas and region. The researchers and technocrats may continue to work towards evolving the best, cost effective technology and process of creation and maintenance of sanitation facilities.

The government may consider creation of National Sanitation Fund and seek donation from NRIs and other rich and affluent stakeholders of the country. To conclude, I would say that it is time to focus for one and all and the government must start focusing on creation of optimum level of sanitation facilities for one and all in the most cost effective way ensuring optimum utilisation of resources with the concerted efforts of all stakeholders of the country.

The country must work towards achieving a new independence from the menace of sub optimal availability of sanitation facilities by ensuring sufficient sanitation facilities for everyone by focusing on quantitative, qualitative, technological and financial dimensions of the Sanitation domain to transform the nation.

(Dr Rana Singh is Co-founder at India CSR)