“So long as you do not take the broom and the bucket in your hands, you-cannot make your towns and cities clean” –Mahatma Gandhi.
India’s one-sided battle against filth and open defecation got a boost with the launch of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on August 2, 2014. The five-year-long campaign, launched by the Modi government, endeavored to rid the nation of the problematic issue of open defecation by October 2, 2019, which happens to be the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The campaign, which has been called by Narendra Modi as “Satyagrah se Swachhagrah” is the largest cleanliness drive in the country. It has been estimated that more than 3 million government employees, college as well as school students from across the country are participating in the programme with the mission to keep the cities and towns clean.
The campaign has made significant progress. Prior to the start of the campaign on October 2, 2014, the national sanitation coverage was 38.7 percent. In 2017, the figure rose to 65 percent, and in August 2018, it is reported to be around 90 percent. By 15 February 2018, eleven states of the country, along with 314 districts and 3.25 lakh villages have been rid of the problem of open defecation and were declared to be Open Defecation Free. Apart from this, the government also started the door-to-door solid waste collection. The number of schools with separate toilet facilities for girls also witnessed an increase, almost reaching the one million mark.