HIGHLIGHTING the need for better urban sanitation models, a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, has recommended setting up of a National Council for Urban Sanitation, and roping in skilled professionals as ‘urban sanitation fellows’ to improve the impact of sanitation programmes.
The report on ways to scale up the impact of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) was prepared by the institute at the behest of the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) after consultations with eight cities, including Mumbai and Chennai.
Among other recommendations, the institute suggested a National Council for Urban Sanitation with powers for governance and implementation in order to ensure effectiveness, accountability and transparency. The council will be responsible for “regular review of policies and monitoring activities under the SBA; proposing legal reforms to enhance the functioning of the Mission; commission the creation of a knowledge base for the SBM necessary for evidence-based policy and programmes and integrating SBA activities and policies with other initiatives in water, agriculture, livelihoods and environmental sectors.”
Another crucial mandate of the council would be ecological safety and environmental health. The council would include representation from civil society, academia, technocrats, policy makers, government officials and other stakeholders.
The report also suggests creation of a cadre of ‘urban sanitation fellows (USFs)’ from engineering, technology and social science fields who can be trained in all aspects of urban sanitation. “The skills that the Fellow would have include: Technical, Social Development, Community Engagement, O&M and Financial. The USFs shall meet acute shortage of well-qualified personnel to meet various demand creation and supply, maintenance and sustainability by the community and local bodies,” read the report submitted to the MoUD.
The responsibilities of the USFs, as listed by the institute, include knowledge consolidation and identification of changemakers in community among others. They will also be responsible for motivating students in local higher education institutions to become change agents.
Apart from innovation in technologies, the report also recommends infrastructural development. The Central government, too, has been assigned responsibilities which include putting in place a policy framework to address sanitation needs of marginalised/ excluded groups, communities, and individuals. The institute has suggested a host of measures for different levels of authority that work in synergy.
While states could work on effective and long-term strategies for waste management and treatment, the report said, the municipal corporations could chalk out strategies for outreach and community mobilisation. Other recommendations for states include capacity-building of personnel involved in waste management. Municipal corporations at the same time should ensure the safety and dignity of scavenging workers.
The report highlighted the importance of public participation in increasing the impact of SBA. “Specifically, where there is a user interface, high levels of community participation will be required alongside government action,” it read.
“If scaled up to a Jan Andolan (people’s movement), [Swachh Bharat] has the power to place India on the course of sustainable urbanisation,” said the report. The report, titled Report of the Consultation on Scaling up Citizens’ Participation in Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) to a Jan Andolan, also made city-specific recommendations for the eight consulted cities — Lucknow, Patna, Nagpur, Mumbai, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati.