Swachh Bharat Mission: Evaluation – Issues in News

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is an important government scheme and is very crucial for the UPSC exam. Every year, many questions are asked from major government schemes in the IAS exam.

Two incidents from Mahatma Gandhi’s life in South Africa stand out decidedly. The first is the blatant racial discrimination that he endured on the first class compartment of a train. He was harassed and thrown out of the train by a European at Pietermaritzburg station on account of his skin colour and ethnicity despite having purchased valid tickets.

The second incident is related to sanitation and cleanliness. When the Mahatma witnessed the poor black men of South Africa cleaning the toilets of others, and carrying buckets of excreta and leftover on their heads, he was deeply anguished and moved. It stirred his conscience to a great deal. That very day, he vowed to clean his own toilet. His vow resonated in his penetrating remark: “If we do not keep our backyards clean, our Swaraj will have a foul stench.”

Seemingly, in tandem with Gandhi’s ideals with regard to cleanliness, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose October 2, 2014 Gandhi’s birth anniversary, as the day to launch the Swachh Bharat Mission. The Prime Minister’s idea and vision of Swachh Bharat epitomizes the “Stench-Free Swaraj” articulated by the Father of the Nation.

The Mission, which is the Central Government’s largest-ever sanitation programme, has been subdivided into Urban and Rural components. The chief resolve of the Swachh Bharat Mission is to make India open-defecation free by October 2, 2019- Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban)

  • Coming to Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), it is under the Ministry of Urban Development and is commissioned to give sanitation and household toilet facilities in all 4041 statutory towns with a combined population of 377 million.
  • The estimated cost is Rs 62,009 crore over five years with the centre’s share of assistance being Rs 14,623 crore.
  • The Mission hopes to cover 1.04 crore households, give 2.5 lakh community toilet seats, 2.6 lakh public toilet seats
  • It also purposes to establish solid waste management facilities in every town.

At the core of this mission lie six components:

  1. Individual household toilets;
  2. Community toilets;
  3. Public toilets;
  4. Municipal Solid Waste Management;
  5. Information and Educating Communication (IEC) and Public Awareness;
  6. Capacity Building
  • The Urban mission seeks to eradicate open defecation; convert insanitary toilets to flush toilets; eradicate manual scavenging; and facilitate solid waste management.
  • The mission emphasises on ushering in a behavioral change among people, with respect to healthy sanitation practices, by educating them about the damaging effects of open defecation, the environmental dangers spreading from strewn garbage, and so on.
  • To achieve these objectives, urban local bodies are being brought in and fortified to design, implement and operate systems in order to promote a facilitating environment for the participation of the private sector in terms of both capital and operations expenditure.

Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural)

  • The Rural mission, known as Swachh Bharat Gramin, aims to make Village Panchayats open defecation free by October 2, 2019.
  • Removing obstacles and addressing critical issues that affect results is the new thrust of this rural sanitation mission, which aims to provide all rural households with individual latrines; and build cluster and community toilets on public-private partnership mode.
  • Considering the filth and unhygienic conditions in village schools, this programme lays special emphasis on toilets in schools with basic sanitation amenities.
  • Construction of Anganwadi toilets and management of solid and liquid waste in all Village Panchayats is the is the object of the mission.

Swachh Bharat Mission Monitoring

  • Nodal agencies will monitor the construction and use of toilets at the Village Panchayat and household levels. The rural scheme envisages building 11.11 crore toilets at an estimated cost of Rs.1,34,000.
  • Under the provision of Individual Household Latrines, villagers belonging to BPL and APL categories are given incentive – after construction and use – of Rs 9000 and Rs 3000 respectively for each toilet by Central and state governments. In the north-eastern states, Jammu and Kashmir and special category areas the incentive amount is an amount of Rs 10,800 and Rs 1200.
  • Under the Rural mission, 210.09 toilets have been constructed between October 1, 2014 and August 1, 2016. In the same period, sanitation coverage has been scaled up from 42.05 percent to 53.60 percent.
  • However, eventually, what matters is behavioural change in sanitation practices. This is a monumental task which requires capacity building of key stakeholders such as Collectors, CEO, Zila Panchayats, Chairman of Zila Panchayats. This is being carried out in different states by roping in key resource centers for state-level workshops related to cleanliness drive.

Related components/initiatives

Various ministries have done an initiative in the name of ‘Swachh Bharat Pakhwada’ to spread awareness.

‘Swachh Bharat Pakhwada’ for Clean and Green Ports and Harbours

  • To spread awareness on cleanliness as part of its ‘Swachhta Abhiyan’, the Ministry of Shipping has celebrated Swachh Bharat Pakhwada from 16th -31st March, 2017 and has undertaken various activities under this campaign.

Major initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Culture during Swachhata Pakhwada are:

  • Ministry is considering to provide space at Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (GSDS), Rajghat to host “Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra” to be set up by “Swachh Bharat Mission” Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation under vision of Prime Minister during the centenary year of Champaran Satyagraha.
  • National Archives of India organized “Swachhagraha- Bapu ko Karyanjali” a mission, and exhibition to commemorate centenary year of Champaran Satyagraha.
  • To create awareness on “Swachhata”, Ministry of Culture has developed “e-guide (Audio-Visual)” App to create awareness for the tourists visiting National Museum.
  • 2 days festival – “Vimal Yatra” was organized by Sangeet Natak Akademi through cultural and devotional performances.

An inter-ministerial joint initiative – SwachhSwasthSarvatra launched

  • ‘Swachh SwasthSarvatra’, an inter-ministerial joint initiative between the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was launched in the Capital on December 29th, 2016.
  • The objective of the ‘Swachh Swasth Sarvatra’ initiative is to build on and leverage achievements of two complementary programmes – Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and Kayakalp – of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Ministry of Health and FamilyWelfare, respectively.

Under this initiative

  • Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has declared over 700 blocks as Open Defecation Free (ODF). Community Health Centres (CHCs) in ODF blocks of the country will be allocated Rs 10 lakhs under National Health Mission (NHM) to focus on sanitation and hygiene.
  • Under Kayakalp, one Primary Health Centre (PHCs) in each district is awarded for meeting quality standards including sanitation and hygiene. Under SBM, the Gram Panchayat in which the PHC which gets awarded under Kayakalp for that district will be noted, and special focus will be given to make it ODF at the earliest.

Bal Swachhta Mission

  • The Union Minister of Women and Child Development launched the National Bal Swachhta Mission.
  • The Bal Swachhta Mission is a part of the nationwide sanitation initiative of ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ launched by the Prime Minister on 2nd October, 2014.
  • Children can become ambassadors of cleanliness and motivate others to keep their homes, schools, and surroundings clean.
  • Cleanliness habits should be imbibed in the children in informal ways like small games, poems, storytelling, conversation with children among others.
  • The cleanliness drive has to be a nationwide effort and should include sustained measures taken up on a continuous basis.

The nationwide Bal Swachhta Mission will have the following six themes:

  1. Clean Anganwadis
  2. Clean Surroundings e.g. Playgrounds
  3. Clean Self (Personal Hygiene/Child Health)
  4. Clean Food
  5. Clean Drinking Water
  6. Clean Toilets

Ranking of cities

Every year, cities and towns across India are awarded with the title of ‘Swachh Cities’ on the basis of their cleanliness and sanitation drive as a part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that was launched in 2014.

Swachh Survekshan

  • In order to foster a healthy competition between cities for improving cleanliness standards, the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) started the “Swachh Survekshan” survey, ranking of cities on cleanliness and other aspects of urban sanitation, in 2016 which ranked 73 cities across the country. On the same lines, MoUD has initiated “Swachh Survekshan” 2017 which will conduct a survey to rank 500 cities of India.
  • The performance evaluation of the Swachh survekshan is conducted by Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous body established by the Government of India in 1997 for Quality assurance in all spheres of activities including Governance.

Survey Methodology

  • The survey was carried out by the Quality Council of India, which had deployed 421 assessors for on the spot assessment of 17,500 locations in 500 cities and towns of which 434 participated. Another 55 people regularly monitored the survey process in real time.

The criteria and weightages for different components of sanitation related aspects used for the survey were:

  • Municipal Documentation (Solid waste management including door-to-door collection, processing, and disposal, ODF (open defecation free) status etc.) These carried 45 per cent of the total 2,000 marks i.e. 900.
  • Citizen feedback – 30 per cent (450+150 marks)
  • Independent observation – 25 per cent (500 marks)


  • Indore in Madhya Pradesh is India’s cleanest city and Gonda in Uttar Pradesh the filthiest
  • Out of 10 cleanest cities, 2 are from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh each while Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Maharashtra each have one
  • Out of 10 dirtiest cities, Uttar Pradesh has 5 cities, 2 each from Bihar and Punjab and one of Maharashtra
  • 118 out of 500 cities were found to be Open Defecation Free (ODF)
  • 297 cities have 100% door to door collection of garbage
  • 37 lakh citizens showed interest in Swachh Surveksan
  • There are 404 Cities where 75% of residential areas were found substantially clean
  • Gujarat has maximum of 12 cities among the top 50 cleanest, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 11 and Andhra Pradesh with eight
  • 4 of the dirtiest cities are in Uttar Pradesh and 50 of the state’s towns are ranked 305 and below


According to the survey among top 50 clean cities:

  • Gujarat has maximum of 12 cities followed by
  • Madhya Pradesh with 11 and
  • 8 in Andhra Pradesh
  • Telangana and Tamil Nadu account for 4 cities each followed by
  • Maharashtra with 3 cities

The worst cities are from

  • Bihar
  • Punjab
  • Uttarakhand and
  • Uttar Pradesh

*Uttar Pradesh has 25 cities in the bottom of the list, with Gonda adjudged the dirtiest city in the country.

Evaluation of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan


  • Scheme has mainly focused on construction of toilets, somehow neglecting the IEC (information, education & communication) part for behavioural change in people.
  • Less fund allocation and not recognizing the importance of solid waste management.
  • The creation of assets particularly the toilets, sanitation drives by the departments, urban local bodies efforts towards waste management and cleanliness drive have been initiated and maintained. However, it is pertinent to understand whether the assets created, the drive towards SBM have transformed the lives of the people targeted.

Issues in local authorities

The creation of toilets by the local authorities are associated with many issues, numerous toilets created at distance from villages are unused, creating toilets in household is marred with corruption by the panchayat members, the allocations under IEC(Information, education and Communication) have been decreased, the urban authorities cleanliness drive have lost its steam with many urban cities like Bangalore, Mumbai facing problems with waste & sewage management.

Financial Aspects

  • The financial costs met by the private companies under CSR are mainly targeted in urban areas as compared to rural areas, also it is observed that, lack of funds to this will indirectly increase the expenditure associated with medical needs due to the increase in diseases like diarrhea, typhoid etc.
  • The mission to make India clean is expected to cost a whopping Rs.133,000 crore over five years. However, the union budget slashed the allocation for SBM toRs2,625 crore from the 4,260 crore allocated in 2014-15.
  • The government states that the funding gap will be filled through a number of initiatives such as imposing a special Swachh Bharat Cess, activating the Swachh Bharat Kosh to tap Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds and getting states to pony up money from the increasing share of taxes and duties they will get from this year. But again, it is unclear how much money exactly these initiatives will be able to mobilise and how they will be managed.

Achieving the targets

In the first nine months of 2014, about 25 lakh toilets were built and in the next three months about 24 lakh toilets were constructed – making it 49 lakh toilets built in fiscal year 2014-15. While that may seem like an impressive number, it pales in comparison to the gargantuan 11.12 crore toilets that need to be built over the next four years to achieve total saturation under the SBM. It is not clear how the jump from constructing just 50 lakh toilets per year to 2.6 crore toilets a year will be managed and done.

Efficacy of the SBM’s monitoring systems

  • Equally, the exponential increase in toilet construction in the last three months of the financial year is a serious cause of concern.
  • A simple on-ground verification of numbers uploaded on the MDWS website in a few areas found that many of the toilets claimed may not actually exist on the ground.
  • This was revealed when organisations working in those areas went to provide the communities where such toilets were built information on post-construction usage and instead found the toilets missing.
  • This raises questions on the efficacy of the SBM’s monitoring systems and it is not clear if the current systems (that largely remain unchanged) have put in place an appropriate mechanism to address such challenges.

Behaviour Change

  • Another area of worry is the cut in resources allocated for behaviour change.
  • Over the past seven months, urban areas have been inundated with billboards, posters, TV and radio ads urging people to keep their surroundings clean and build toilets in their houses.
  • While the government has spent a lot of money on this mass media campaign, it is as yet unclear if the campaign has managed to change people’s attitudes and approach towards sanitation.
  • In India, the major challenge is getting people to use toilets once constructed, but only a meagre 8% of funds have been directed towards this.

Swachhata Doots

  • To enable the creation of organic demand for sanitation among communities, SBM emphasises creating foot soldiers termed as Swacchata Doots. While this frontline workforce is much desired, only 8,890 Swachhata Doots have been identified so far against the 76,108 needed in urban areas.

Rural scenario

  • The rural scenario looks even worse. According to one estimate, 6.4 lakh people will be needed from the panchayat to state levels to run this programme but the SBM is unclear on how this huge human resource crunch will be filled.
  • The larger challenge is that of lack of trained human resources at every level, which has led to sub-optimal performance of mandated bodies like the State Water and Sanitation Missions and District Water and Sanitation Missions.
  • Without a real fillip to these, the supply side challenge will not be met.

What needs to be done?

  • Overall, SBM success is highly important for a developing country like india.
  • One hand we have the technology to land our vehicles on mars, whereas on other hand a very large proportion of our population still are involved n open defecation.
  • So, for proper success of this scheme government should couple the positives & develop an effective mechanism to solve the given problems.
  • For SBM to work, it is critical to concentrate on creating demand and responding to such demands without delay in the release of funds.
  • In addition, information on state, district and block-wise funds approved under SBM needs to be made easily available for people to know the annual plans and allocations for making their demands.


  • While the expectation is on the communities to demand and build toilets and adopt new sanitation and hygiene behaviours, it is equally important for state mechanisms, civil society and community organisations to be vigilant about any misuse of funds.

Behavioural change

  • We also need to be working towards changing deep-seated individual and social attitudes that lead to open defecation and other unhygienic practices among different communities.
  • It is when such efforts come together that success stories such as Nadia district from West Bengal becoming the first district in the country to achieve open defecation free status can truly be celebrated.

Conclusion of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

  • Sanitation needs to be seen as a life cycle issue and hence providing sanitation facilities at work, education and other public spaces is important.
  • This requires investing in the right place at the right time and in the most appropriate manner. Time is running out and the Mahatma’s 150th birth anniversary is not far away.
  • The SBM should not become yet another government scheme that makes the right noises initially only to die a quiet death once the spotlight moves away.
  • SBM is definitely with great goals and objectives, the issues associated with finance, implementation & awareness needs to be tackled in the right manner, every citizen of India should involve themselves and inculcate the behavioural changes to the literates and illiterates towards cleanliness respectively.

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