Saturday, July 28, 2012

India is the World’s Open Defecation Capital

India has been deemed the world capital of ‘open defecation’. In a statement  the Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Jairam Ramesh  has plans to install 100,000 “bio- toilets” in 300 backward gram panchayats in the next two years. The total cost for this drive is estimated to be around Rs 150 crores. “We are the world’s capital for open defecation. It is a matter of shame, anguish, sorrow, anger,” Ramesh said, noting over 60 percent of all open defecation takes place in India. Speaking in the presence of mister of Defence  A.K Antony, the ministers signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to install bio-digester- based eco friendly toilets. A common understanding was reached  to rid the country of open defication in the next 10 years. Ramesh, who is also rural development minister, said DRDO-developed bio-toilet had immense use for Indian Railways. He said his ministry had offered to equip it in all new railway coaches and share half the cost of retrofitting it in all the existing 50,000 coaches in the next four to five years. The project will cost about Rs.500 crore. 

The minister said bio-toilets will also help curb manual scavenging which was still prevalent in about 15 lakh insanitary latrines.  He said the ministry intended to provide bio-toilets to 1,000 gram panchayats over the next four-five years. The minister said that funds for setting up bio-toilets will be provided by his ministry and DRDO while its private partner will be responsible for technology.  Ramesh said of 240,000 gram panchayats, only 28,000 had achieved the status of “nirmal gram” and his ministry intended that all panchayats achieve the status over the next 10 years.  Antony said that bio-toilet was a spin off from technology developed by DRDO for eco-friendly disposal of human waste for armed forces deployed in high altitude locations. 

Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation Srikant Jena said he would write to MPs for keeping apart money from MPLADS scheme for installing bio-toilets in their area. DRDO bio-toilet is based on anaerobic biodegradation of organic waste by unique microbial consortium and works at wide temperature range. The consortium has been made through acclimatisation, enrichment and bioaugumentation of cold-active bacteria collected from Antartica and other low temperature areas.

This video highlights the seriousness of the sanitation problem in poor, urban India and the complexities that have made municipalities and authorities unable or unwilling to find a solution, and the steps that poor people's federations have taken to provide for their own facilities

“Sanitation, hygiene services almost nil in India”

Over 50 million people in urban India defecate in the open every day. Sixty-six per cent of the women in Delhi slums are verbally abused, 46 per cent are stalked and more than 30 per cent are physically assaulted while accessing toilets.

Eighty per cent of India’s surface water pollution is on account of sewage alone.
As many as 4,861 of 5,161 cities across the country do not have even a partial sewerage network.

These findings are from a new survey conducted across the country by Dasra, a strategic philanthropy foundation. With services related to sanitation and hygiene for the poor almost missing, the foundations says organisations involved in philanthropic work should now focus on these areas.

Armed with the survey results, Dasra is scouting around for donors to pitch in with the monies to provide the poor and the marginalised access to sanitation and hygiene.
“Traditionally, philanthropy has focussed on areas like education and health care, but with a sizeable number of people having little or no access to water and sanitation, there is a need for the philanthropic organisations and the corporates to ensure this gap is overcome,” says Neera Nundy, founder and partner of Dasra.

The survey, which began in April this year in collaboration with Forbes Marshall, shows there is an adverse impact of poor sanitation and hygiene on various aspects including the environment, economics, education and gender.

To buttress this claim, the survey reveals that poor urban households pay 65 per cent more than the average urban household and 75 per cent more than a rural household for sanitation facilities. Explaining the impact on education, it cites the high dropout rate of girls. 
“Almost 23 per cent of girls drop out of school when they start menstruating. In some places, nearly 66 per cent of girls skip school during menstruation and one-third of them eventually drop out. Also, 40 per cent of schools lack functional toilets,” the survey reveals.

Over 70 per cent of the households in the analysed cities, the survey found, have no access to toilets or a sewerage system. “Some places such as Surender Nagar receive water supply for only 30 minutes once a week,” it points out.

The survey claims nearly 60 per cent of the slums in Delhi do not have sewerage facilities. Proximity of slum communities to un-disposed sewerage and resultant polluted water has serious ramifications on their health.

The survey was conducted in 15 cities -- Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad, Trichy, Patna, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Lucknow, Gwalior, Chennai, Hyderabad and Madurai along with a few smaller districts.

By Smriti Kak

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