The Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, announced that the Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen (SBM-G), Phase – II has achieved a remarkable fivefold increase in ODF Plus villages in India in just one year. Shri Shekhawat lauded the achievement, with more than 40 percent of India’s inhabited villages declaring themselves ODF Plus.
About ODF Plus Villages in India
Shri Shekhawat revealed that the ODF Plus villages in India increased from 46,121 villages (7.4%) in March 2022 to 2,38,973 villages (40.21%) in March 2023. Out of these, 1,60,709 are in the ODF Plus Aspiring category, 27,409 in the ODF Plus Rising category, and 50,855 are in the ODF Plus Model category.
ODF Plus villages are communities that have transitioned from open defecation to using toilets, and have sustained their ODF status while ensuring proper waste management and cleanliness. The term “Open defecation free” (ODF) refers to communities that have completely eliminated open defecation, which is an important indicator of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal. This goal aims to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for everyone.
ODF Plus villages go beyond just eliminating open defecation. They ensure that all households in the village, as well as public places like schools and community centers, have access to toilets. They also manage solid and liquid waste effectively, with at least 80% of households participating in waste management efforts. ODF Plus villages are visually clean, with minimal litter and stagnant water.
The Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin Phase-II, launched in February 2020, aims to help all villages in India declare themselves as ODF Plus by the end of 2024. The mission includes several components such as biodegradable waste management, grey water management, plastic waste management, and faecal sludge management. ODF Plus villages are divided into three categories: Aspiring, Rising, and Model, which creates healthy competition and encourages community participation in achieving sustained cleanliness.
States and Union Territories Achieve Remarkable Progress
The Union Minister applauded the States and Union Territories for their efforts in achieving more than 2.38 lakh ODF Plus villages compared to only 46,480 in March 2022. Telangana has the highest percentage of ODF Plus villages with 100%, followed by Tamil Nadu with 95.7% and Karnataka with 93.7%. Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh moved from 18% ODF Plus villages in 2022 to 79% villages in 2023, Madhya Pradesh moved from 6% ODF Plus villages in 2022 to 62% villages in 2023, and Uttar Pradesh moved from 2% ODF Plus villages in 2022 to 47% villages in 2023. Mizoram also showed significant progress, moving from 6% ODF Plus villages in 2022 to 35% villages in 2023.
State/UT Budgets Approved for SBM-G Phase II Activities
The National Scheme Sanctioning Committee (NSSC) approved the State/UT budgets to the tune of Rs 52,049 crores for SBM-G Phase II activities through convergence for the Financial Year 2023-24. States have been informed of the tentative allocation of Rs 14,030 crores in Central share funds for FY 2023-24. The Union Minister appreciated the efforts of Bihar and UP for having high fund expenditure (more than 90%) in the current financial year of 2022-23.
Achievements Under SBM-G in 2022-23
Shri Shekhawat mentioned the achievements under SBM-G in the year 2022-23. These included the launch of SBM 2.0 Mobile App to capture SLWM progress, engaging women SHGs in SLWM and providing them with income generation opportunities, release of Technical manuals and tool kits for Solid and Liquid waste Management (SLWM) components, Sujlam and Retrofit to Twin Pit Campaigns for integrated Grey Water Management and Faecal Sludge Management, SBM academy – IVRS-based (online course), and DDWS being designated the Nodal Department for the implementation of GOBARdhan.
The Importance of the GOBARdhan Initiative
The Union Minister reiterated the importance of the GOBARdhan initiative, which aims to convert waste to wealth, manage rural biodegradable waste, generate rural income, and promote a circular economy. As of date, 510 community GOBARdhan projects have been completed under SBM(G) along with 43 CBG projects under SATAT by MoP&NG and 36 projects under MNRE funding. The GOBARdhan initiative is being implemented in coordination with other stakeholder ministries.
The Need for ‘Whole of Government’ and ‘Whole of Society’ Approaches
In conclusion, the Union Minister called for the ‘Whole of Government’ and ‘Whole of Society’ approaches to achieve 100% ODF Plus villages or Sampoorna Swachhata by 2024. The remarkable increase in ODF Plus villages in India is a testament to the success of the Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen, Phase – II, which has ensured access to sanitation for the whole of rural India. India has earned recognition around the world and is considered a role model in the field of sanitation, thanks to the efforts of States, Union Territories, and the Central government in implementing the mission.
The ODF Plus villages have shown significant progress in managing solid and liquid waste management, and the GOBARdhan initiative has been a game-changer in converting waste to wealth and generating rural income. The Union Minister’s call for a ‘Whole of Government’ and ‘Whole of Society’ approach is crucial to sustain this progress and achieve Sampoorna Swachhata by 2024. The Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen, Phase – II has shown that with dedicated efforts and cooperation from all stakeholders, India can achieve its goal of a clean and hygienic rural India.