In a boost to the government’s flagship programme Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) to make villages Open Defecation Free (ODF), a study conducted by UNICEF showed the various benefits of the scheme.
- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) was launched in 2014 by the Prime Minister amid much fanfare to make the country open defecation free.
- The Governments, both Central and State, spent around Rs. 1 Lakh Crore for the mission on 60:40 basis.
- The Mission will officially come to an end on October 2 this year and it is uncertain whether the scheme will be continued or not.
- The newly formed Jal Shakthi Ministry which has absorbed the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation had released a UNICEF study conducted on the mission.
The Study Findings :
- It was found that, compared to non-ODF villages, the groundwater in ODF villages is 12.7 times less likely to be contaminated (human contaminants) pointing to the environmental gains that the SBA has brought.
- Piped water in non-ODF villages is 2.4 times more likely to be contaminated.
- Stored house water in non-ODF villages is 2.48 times more likely to be contaminated.
- The soil in non-ODF villages is 1.1 times more likely to be contaminated.
- Food is 2.16 times more likely to be contaminated.
- Household drinking water is 2.48 times more likely to be contaminated.
- The study was conducted in three states – Odisha, Bihar, and West Bengal.
- As per the study, among the three states, the contamination levels in the non-ODF villages is 35.7 times high in Bihar, 6.6 times higher in West Bengal and 5.3 times higher in Odisha.
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- As per the study, the mission is bringing upon environmental benefits in ODF villages.
- The task ahead with the government is to continue the mission with similar budgetary allocations and bring upon behavioral changes to sustain the gains achieved by the mission.
- Hope we will see a complete ODF free country in the near future.