Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Friday released the Rural Sanitation Strategy (2019-2029), which lays the roadmap for ODF Plus — the ministry’s next step in dealing with open defecation and sanitation issues in the country.
Secretary, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Parameswaran Iyer on Friday said the framework for the rural sanitation programme had been drawn up and would be sent to the Union Cabinet shortly for approval.
The main thrust of the strategy is that while the construction and maintenance of toilets for rural households will continue, the ministry will take the programme a step further and focus on waste water and solid waste treatment at the village and panchayat level in phase II.
“The existing pattern for toilets will continue, including the financial module of 60:40. In hill states, this will be 90:10. But having achieved our target of providing toilets to rural households, the government will now focus on the gram panchayat,’’ said Iyer.
According to the strategy, the government has, over the past five years, achieved a 100 per cent coverage of all rural households in construction of toilets from 38 per cent when it began in 2014. “We have kept room for households that we may have missed. There is a financial provision for the construction of toilets to continue. Also, for new homes being constructed. According to our estimates, there are likely to be 30 lakh new toilets constructed in the country annually,’’said Additional Secretary Arun Baroka.
“Having achieved these outcomes, there is now a need to sustain the gains made under the mission and to ensure that the health and hygiene benefits continue to be realised,” says the strategy report, adding that toilet usage behaviour needs to be continuously reinforced and universal, safe management of solid and liquid waste needs to be achieved.
For this, the Ministry has chalked out four broad areas on which it will concentrate over the next ten years — biodegradable and organic waste (kitchen and green waste), plastics, greywater management and black water or fecal sludge management.
The government’s plans also involve sanitation coverage of public spaces, which will involve construction of community toilets as well as community sanitary complexes in gram panchayats “to cover the needs of the floating population and large congregations in gram panchayats such as melas/tourist places/religious places’’.
Gram panchayats are also to play a key role in ensuring the operation and maintenance of sanitation infrastructure.
Composting biowaste will be encouraged at the household level and the community level.
At the district level, model bio-gas plants will be initiated with funding support from the government.
Segregation of waste at the source in villages will be a major push of the strategy, especially in relation to handling plastic waste. Gram panchayats will be responsible for collection of plastic waste at household levels and will also be responsible for its storage and transportation to a material recovery facility at the block level.
Greywater is to be treated through soak pits or leach pits and water stabilisation ponds. “Once treated, our aim is to reuse it for agriculture,’’ said Baroka.
Fecal sludge management is a key component of ODF sustainability activities, for which existing rural and urban sewage treatment plants will be employed. Trenching will be promoted in remote villages and fecal sludge treatment plants will be set up for clusters of villages.