The Gist of Kurukshetra: March 2013

The Gist of Kurukshetra Magazine: March 2013

Contents

  • Vision 2022
  • New Law of Manual Scavangers
  • Draft Water Policy 2012
  • eToilet India’s First Electronic Public Toilet
  • MGNREGA and Social Audit

Sanitation is an integral component of public hygiene and
health care. In India, 736 million [71.7%] people out of total population of
1027 million, lack basic sanitation facilities resulting in high mortality and
morbidity. Sanitation in broad term refers to disposal and management of solid
wastes, wastewater, human and cattle excreta etc. in such a way that it does not
affect adversely domestic personal hygiene. Sanitation is a for human health. It
contributes to clean and improved environment, social development and generates
significant economic benefits.

Human excreta, among all forms of wastes, are the principal
sources of many enteric diseases and almost cause 80% of the diseases in
developing countries. Studies reveal that over 50 types of infections can be
transmitted from diseased persons to healthy ones by various direct and indirect
routes from human excreta. Human excreta are the most hated object and anything
connected with the latrine is considered so defiling that in India in the past,
one was expected to take a bath immediately after coming out of the toilet and
before entering into the kitchen due to religious taboos. Sanitation has,
however, been seen as a matter of individual understanding and initiative rather
than a collective responsibility of the community. Investment to promote
environmental sanitation in this fast changing socio-cultural background is
accorded the low priority. A UN study in 2010 observed more people in India
having access to a mobile phone than to a toilet. India’s mobile subscribers
totaled around 894 million at the last count, enough to serve more than half of
the country’s 1.2 billion people. But just 366 million people [30.5%] had access
to proper sanitation.

A recent UNICEF report says 638 million people [54%] defecate
in the open in India as against just 7% each in Brazil and Bangladesh. Only 6%
rural children below five years in India used toilets and about 50% of all
Indians regularly wash their hands with soap after contact with excreta. Union
Minister for rural development Shree Jairam Ramesh has called for making India
“an open defecation free” country by 2017.

Finance: Experts have observed that Government
spending on sanitation and drinking water is grossly inadequate. According to
the Center for Budget and Government Accountability, Government spending under
these heads declined from 0.59% of GDP in 2008-09 to 0.54% in 2009-10 and
further to 0.42% in 2010-11.Union Minister for rural development Shree Jairam
Ramesh has acknowledged that, “investment in sanitation and drinking water is as
important as investment in defense”. He further adds “you can invest in missiles
and tanks, in alrcrafts, but if you don’t have clean  drinking water, if
you don’t have sanitation then the population is not going to be healthy. More
investment in these sectors will result into better health of the people”. The
budget for 2012-13 has increased allocation by 27% for rural sanitation and
drinking water from Rs. 11,000 crore in 2011-12 to Rs.14,000 crore. A major
initiative would be to strengthen Panchayats across the country through Gram
Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan and capacity building of panchayats.

Government of India’s first socio-economic census and
comprehensive population survey, 2011, reveals developments on certain basic
amenities to sustain human life. The number of houses increased from 250 million
in 2001 to 330 million [132%] in 2011 whereas Government’s biased policy and
enhanced purchasing power of millions in urban and metropolitan centers
facilitated them easy access to state-of-the-art technologies and consumer
goods, due to complex transition process experienced during post-market economy,
in sharp contrast to a large number of rural households lacking access even to
the most rudimentary facilities as per Census 2011. For example, while rural
households [167,826,730] accounted for 68.03% of total 246,692,667 HHs only
17.9% rural HHs have access to treated source of tap water as against 62.0%
urban HHs and 62.5% rural HHs depend upon firewood for cooking as compared with
20.5% urban HHs. It is shocking that only 30.7% rural HHs have latrine
facilities as compared to 81.4% urban HHs. Of this, as high as 63.2% rural HHs
have toilets with no drainage as against meager 18.2% urban HHs and just
abysmally as insignificant as 2.2% rural HHs have piped sewer system as compared
with 18.2% urban HHS.

VISION 2022

India as an emerging economy and targeting double digit
annual growth will have to resolve the problem of open defecation and providing
toilet facilities with piped sewer system for disposal of human waste from the
long- erm perspective. Indeed neither the Government, nor local authorities or
beneficiaries can bear the total capital costs and recurring operations and
maintenance costs of sewerage system. For this purpose, vision 2022 may need to
be initiated focusing on sharing national and international experiences and best
practices with developed countries. This could be through mobilizing financial
resources from international financial institutions, viz. World Bank, Asian
Development Bank etc.; harnessing technical expertise, technologies and
equipment from reputed international professional agencies; formulating
perspective plan to be implemented in phases to cover all cities and villages
progressively in 10 years in a mission mode.

Women’s Role in Promoting Sanitation: Some Study-based Reflections

As far as the scenario of rural sanitation is concerned, the
access to water supply and sanitation services is still largely inadequate.
While the overall Indian scenario reflects that an estimated 55% of all Indians
or close to 600 million people still do not have access to any kind of toilet
but in rural areas, the scale of the problem is particularly daunting, as 74% of
the rural population still defecates in the open. Despite an investment of more
than Rs. 6 billion and construction of over 9 million latrines in rural areas,
rural sanitation grew at just 1% annually throughout the 1990s and the Census of
2001 found that only 22 per cent of rural households had access to a toilet,
with combined rural and urban coverage as 36.4 %. (UNICEF 2008)

Role of Women in Promoting Rural Sanitation: Study-based Observations from
West Bengal

Almost one out of two persons live without a toilet in India.
In rural West Bengal, percentage of using sanitary latrine/toilet is very less.
Women often face major problems if there is no toilet at home having to wait
until nightfall to relieve them-selves. This is risky behaviour as it exposes
them to multiple health hazards and also snake bites, harassment and even rape.
In one of the recent micro-level studies conducted by the author himself
covering 50 rural households of Birbhum district of West Bengal – with an aim to
explore the role of women in promotion and management of rural sanitation, which
brought into light the following observations-

(1) Women always play the decisive role in promotion and proper management of
household-levelsanitation in a family
(2) In absence of a toilet at home, women and young girls suffer the most, which
also make them vulnerable to different diseases
(3) Interestingly it was also found that women from 65% of the selected
households, happily invested their money earned from self-help-group (SHG)
activities while installation of their house-hold toilets
(4) Compared to men, women pay more attention towards basic sanitation and
hygiene principles, which we apply in our daily life
(5) Children from female-headed families were found much more conscious and
concern about personal hygiene norms than that of male-headed families
(6) Strategies of Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) would have been much more
effective to ensure full-sanitation coverage in rural areas, if the gender
component had been given much more priority

The study-result also exhibits that rural women have always
been the key educator in inculcating the sense of personal hygiene among their
children and at the same time they were found to be much more interested in
sanitation-related issues in comparison to their male counterpart, which
ultimately ensures a better and safer environmental sanitation within a rural
community.

Studies indicate that in absence of a sanitary latrine at
home, it is the women’s dignity which is found to be at stake especially in
rural India. Rural women suffer more than men from the indignity of being forced
to defecate in the open, at risk of assault and rape. Women, generally being
responsible for the home and for children and other dependents, are most
affected by a lack of sanitation, and by the indignity of living without
sanitation. The study conducted by Mitik and Decaluwe (2009) in South Africa
shows that women, in particular, spend a considerable proportion of their time
in the household’s common sanitation related activities such as fetching water,
harvesting fodder, and collecting firewood especially in rural areas of
developing countries. They further suggested and concluded that for ensuring the
success and sustainability of any sanitation programme women must be given
enough space and opportunity to take active part in it. While the study by lIahi
(2000) suggests that women has always been a better manager in comparison to
their male counterpart in the context of promoting the state of household level
sanitation. Reddy’s (1999) study conducted in rural Haryana reveals that even
illiterate women performs the role of a hygiene educator in better way than that
of the literate male members of the same family; and this is more evident in the
context of rural parts of Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. Narayan (1995) while
studying 121 Rural Water Supply and Sanitation projects of India found that
women’s participation is among the crucial variables associated with sanitation
project’s effectiveness. Without the effective participation of women it is not
possible to ensure sustainability of any sanitation programme. At the same time
he has found that at household level more 70% of the sanitation related
activities are carried out by women, so they must be considered as the key
player in ensuring success of any rural sanitation programmes or projects.

New Law of Manual Scavangers

On June 17, 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh referred to
manual scavenging as “one of the darkest blots on [India’s] development process”
and asked all state Ministers in the country to pledge to eliminate this scourge
from every corner of India in the next six months, by the end of 2011.
Government was duty bound to enact a new comprehensive law for total
emancipation of sanitary comprehensive law for total emancipation of sanitary
sewerage cleaning and septic tank cleaning Within a time frame. Tamil Nadu
Assembly on September 10, 2011, acknowledging the fact that old law 10 too weak
and needs to be replaced with a new central laws binding all State legislatures,
was prompt to pass a unanimous resolution urging the Union of India to enact
suitable amendments to the 1993 Act by modifying certain clauses to make it
comprehensive and unambiguous, inter alia, widen the definition of manual
scavenging, appointment of implementing authorities, power of executing
authority to prevent environment pollution.

The law must strengthen public accountability mechanisms and
shift the focus to human dignity from mere sanitation and automatically binding
on all State Governments. On March 12, 2012 Ms Pratibha Patil, then President of
India, while addressing the Parliament promised for social justice and said,
“her Government will introduce a new Bill in the Parliament for eliminating
manual scavenging and insanitary latrines. This will also provide for proper
rehabilitation of manual scavengers in alternative occupations so that they are
able to lead a life of dignity”. A similar commitment was made to the Supreme
Court four days later. The bill was proposed to be introduced in the monsoon
session of the Parliament, which also came only after the matter was brought
before the Supreme Court following an order of the Madras High Court that the
personal appearance of high dignitaries, including those in the Prime Minister’s
Office, might be required if the Center failed to amend the law. The 1993 Act
defined a manual scavenger as “a person engaged in or employed for manually
carrying human excreta” whereas the definition of scavenger in the 2012 new bill
is elaborate, inclusive and includes a person engaged or employed for manually
cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling in any manner, human
excreta In an unsanitary latrine or in an open drain or pit into which the human
excreta from the insanitary latrine is disposed of, or on a railway track”.
However, the scope of definition saying that “excreta with the help of such
devises and using such protective gear, as the Central Government may notify in
this behalf, shall not be a manual scavenger” is just sufficient to continue the
demeaning practice. Besides, cleaning railway tracks should be included.

Drinking Water

  • In 2008 while urban areas witnessed 96% improvement in
    respect of access to safe drinking water sources, rural areas have yet to
    satisfy with 73% improvement.

  • According to the Joint Monitoring Program of the orld
    Health Organization and UNICEF, the use of improved sanitation coverage in
    rural India has increased to only 21% in 2008. Besides, 65,000 villages are
    still “no source” villages and estimated 200 million people access
    unhygienic water.

  • Number of villages are not only deprived of having a
    dependable source of drinking water but many others have, also, been
    experiencing impact of hazardous chemicals in the aquifers of groundwater. A
    high proportion of the rural population in India obtain their drinking water
    supplies from shallow and private bore holes, which suffer to a much greater
    extent from the impact of chemical fertilizers and pesticides as well as
    other elements injurious to health viz. fluoride, nitrate, chloride,
    arsenic, sulphide, iron, zinc, chromium and salinity.

  • Already the Government and other agencies have identified
    185 locations/districts throughout the country where theses pollutants cause
    harmful effects. The gravity of the problem can best be understood from the
    fact that [i] fluoride is present in 37 districts of nine States [ii] salinity [inland] in 12 districts of five States [iii] salinity [coastal] in
    11 districts of four States [iv] nitrate in 68 districts of 12 States [v] chloride in 17 districts of five States [vi] arsenic in four districts of
    one State [vii] sulphide in three districts of one State [viii] iron in 26
    districts of seven States [ix] zinc in six districts of three States and [x] chromium in one district.

Draft Water Policy 2012

The draft on water policy, among others, suggests that [i] the Government may withdraw from its role as a service provider in the water
sector [ii] communities and the private sector should be encouraged to play the
role of service provider [iii] Government should abolish all forms of water
subsidies to the agricultural and domestic sectors [iv] subsidies and incentives
should be provided to private industry for recycling and reusing treated
effluents [v] people displaced by large water projects should be made partners
and given a share in the benefits comparable to the project-benefitted families.
The policy suggests that the cost of rehabilitation and compensation to the
project affected families be partly borne by the project-benefited families
through adequate pricing of water.

Approach predicted on realizing the costs that go into supply
of water can only distort access and prices in the long run, affecting less
affluent citizens. For example, the State should exit the service provider role
and become a regulator is only a step away from abandoning the equity
objectives. Evidently, private partnership imposes the burden of extra costs.

In 2005, a World Bank document recommended that’ if India is
to have sustainable economic growth, the role of the Indian water state must
change from that of a builder and controller to creator of an enabling
environment and facilitator of the actions of water users large and small”. The
document, inter alia, suggested ‘stimulating competition in and for the market
for irrigation and water and sanitation services.

eToilet India’s First Electronic Public Toilet

Through this unique product, the company has attempted to
address the inherent challenges of public sanitation. In a perfect situation, a
public toilet should have the capabilities to address waste management,
effective water usage and sustainability as core challenges among various other
issues. eToilet is positioned as the perfect solution which addresses all these
effectively; it is cost effective, appropriate and suitable for the geographic
and demographic patterns of any location. It is working on a mission to have all
Indian Cities with modern sterilized public sanitation system. To further
improve Urban Sanitation Infrastructure, such projects with huge social
relevance are inevitable.

Global Water shortage

The amount of water in the world is finite. A third of the
world’s population lives in water-stressed countries now. By 2025, this is
expected to rise to two-thirds. There is more than enough water available, in
total, for everyone’s basic needs. The UN recommends that people need a minimum
of 50 liters of water a day for drinking, washing, cooking and sanitation. In
1990, over a billion people did not have even that. Providing universal access
to that basic minimum worldwide by 2015 would take less than 1% of the amount of
water we use today. But we’re a long way from achieving that. The total domestic
water demand in 1995 and 2025 under the three scenarios. Total domestic demand
under CRI is 60 cubic kilometers in developing countries including India.
Urbanization and rapid growth in urban population can dramatically increase per
capita use of freshwater. Fast population growth with accelerated urbanization,
combined with scare water supplies means that the governments all over the world
often cannot supply enough water to meet demand.

Water scarcity in India

In India the pumping of underground water is now estimated to
be double the rate of aquifer recharge from rainfall. The International Water
Management Institute, the world’s premier water research group, estimates that
India’s grain harvest could be reduced by up to one fourth as a result of
aquifer depletion. In a country adding 18 million people per year, this is not
good news.

In addition to population growth, urbanisation and
industrialisation also expand the demand for water. Industrialisation takes even
more water than urbanisation. Some 70 per cent of the water consumed worldwide,
including both that diverted from rivers and that pumped from underground, is
used for irrigation, while some 20 per cent is used by industry, and 10 per cent
for residential purposes. In the increasingly intense competition for water
among sectors, agriculture almost always loses. The 1,000 tons of water used in
India to produce one ton of wheat worth perhaps $200 (Rs. 10,000) can also be
used to expand industrial output by $10,000 (Rs. 5,00,000), or 50 times as much.
This ratio helps explain why, in the American West, the sale of irrigation water
rights by farmers to cities is an almost daily occurrence. In India, overall
water demand will increase from 552 BCM to 1050 BCM by 2025, which will require
the use of all the available water resources in the country (World Bank 1999).
Of the present water usage, 92% is devoted to agriculture, with roughly 3% used
in industry and only 5% for domestic purposes like drinking water and sanitation
(WRI 2000). Demand from the industrial and domestic sectors is expected to
increase with the growing population urbanization and industrialization.

Measures to Overcome Water Crisis

  • Protection of forests, soil and water resources.
  • Promotion and coordination of traditional and environment friendly
    technologies in agriculture and water conservation.
  • Water conservation measures from domestic level
  • Ensure recharging of groundwater to meet increasing dependability on
    groundwater
  • Rainwater harnessing
  • Improvement of irrigation technology to avoid overuse and loss in water
    conveyance
  • Good network of data collecting centres
  • Improved observation standardization of data
  • Free access to data in websites, especially remote sensing data, for
    researchers
  • More facilities for research, including computers and broadband Internet
  • Adequate training for the staff in meteorological and water resources
    departments
  • Better international cooperation in research and technology permanent
    mechanism to monitor climate change impacts
  • Region wise, in-depth study of the water balance
  • Develop better institutional capacity for water resources management
  • Special task force and special funds for the extreme climate conditions
    – emphasis on urban hydrology
  • Conservation and management strategies to cope with any extremes in
    water balance
  • Fostering an awareness of water as a scare resource and its conservation
    as an important principle – through NGOs
  • New management approaches – empowering people for equitable sharing of
    water, creating a political will and good governance, and developing and
    sharing knowledge and technology to improve water resources management
  • Control of all water resources by the Central administration to avoid
    disputes.

MGNREGA and Social Audit

Social audit is a process in which, details of the resources,
both financial and non-financial, used by public agencies for development
initiatives are shared with the people, often through a public platform such as
the Gram Sabha in rural India. Broadly, the process of social audit involves
following three components: a) availability of information b) organising the
beneficiaries/people and c) scrutiny of the information by the beneficiaries /
people. Social audit is seen as a means of promoting (i) transparency (ii)
participation (iii) consultation and consent (iv) downward accountability and
(v) redressal of grievances in public matters.
The Social Audit Unit shall be responsible to:

(a) build capacities of Gram Sabhas for conducting Social Audit and for this
purpose identify, train and deploy suitable resource persons at village, block,
district and State level, drawing from primary stake holders and other civil
society organizations having knowledge and experience of working for the rights
of the people.
(b) prepare Social Audit reporting format, resource materials, guidelines and
manuals for the Social Audit process.
(c) create awareness rights and entitlements under MGNREGA .
(d) facilitate verification of records withb primary stakeholders/beneficiaries
and work sites/assets created.
(e) facilitate smooth conduct of Social Audit, Gram Sabhas for reading out and
finalizing decisions after due discussions.
(f) host the Social Audit Report including the Action Taken Report in the public
domain.
(g) act as a liaison agency with civil society groups and NGOs on issues of
transparency and accountability.

“Swabhimaan” –The Financial Inclusion Campaigh

In order to further extend the reach of banking to the rural
hinterland, banks were advised to provide appropriate banking facilities to
habitations having population is excess of 2000 by March, 2012 using various
models and technologies including branchless banking through Business
Correspondent Agent (BCAs). This Financial Inclusion Campaign named “Swabhimaan”
was formally launched by the Government in February, 2011. Banking facilities to
74,194 such villages have been provided and about 3.16 crore financial accounts
have been opened under this Campaign by end of March, 2012. Further, in terms of
Finance Minister’s Budget Speech 2012-12 it has been decided to extend the
“Swabhimaan” campaign to habitations with population of more than 1000 in North
Easter and hilly States and to other habitations which have crossed population
of 2011. Accordingly about 45,000 such habitations have been identified to be
covered under the extended “Swabhimaan” campaign.

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