New Delhi: Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0, implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), has launched the revised Swachh Certification Protocols for ODF, ODF+, ODF++ and Water+ certifications. The launch event, held yesterday at Nirman Bhavan, New Delhi, was chaired by Manoj Joshi, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), and brought together various stakeholders such as officials States/UTs, cities and industry partners.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden speech on Independence Day in 2014, the goal of eliminating the threat of open defecation from India became a national development priority. Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday was chosen as the day when all cities and statutory towns in urban India were to become 100% open defecation free (ODF). By raising awareness among citizens and constantly improving the availability of sanitation facilities, the first phase of Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban succeeded in achieving this goal and 100% of urban India was declared free from open defecation. However, the Mission’s mandate goes beyond the transformation of urban India into ODF.
Thanks to SBM-U, India has written a narrative of successful sanitation for itself that is a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of a clean India. Seven years after the launch of the Mission, thousands of citizens, especially women, children and divyangs, have enjoyed dignity and security. The need of the hour is to sustain these sanitation achievements while making strong progress towards new sanitation goals. The revamped revised protocol is aligned with SBM-2.0 objectives and is designed to ensure:
- No untreated wastewater or faecal sludge is discharged into the environment and all wastewater (including sewage and sludge, gray water and black water) is safely contained, transported and treated, with a maximum reuse of treated wastewater, in all cities with less than 1 lakh population.
- Maintain open defecation free status in all statutory cities.
- It contains provisions to encourage cities to have sound infrastructure with reliable operation and maintenance (O&M) mechanisms to achieve the goal of a clean urban India. The key interventions against each certification are:
- ODF – Robust monitoring mechanism ensured by increasing survey sample size and location types.
- ODF+ – Focus on CT/PT functionality and innovative O&M business model for their long-term sustainability.
- ODF++ – Emphasis on mechanized cleaning of septic tanks and sewers. Safe collection and treatment of wastewater as well as safe management of faecal sludge.
- Water+ – Emphasis is placed on the collection, transport, treatment and reuse of wastewater and faecal sludge to prevent environmental pollution. (1) For municipalities with more than 20,000 inhabitants, a minimum of 25% of households to be connected to the sanitation network. (2) Strive for sustainability. (3) No untreated wastewater is discharged into the environment.
At the launch of the revised Swachh certification protocols, Shri Manoj Joshi, Secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, emphasized the need for certification processes to constantly evolve to become more comprehensive. He said, “The evolution of a protocol is an ongoing process, and we are committed to moving forward with a streamlined process. The revised Swachh certification protocols are more feature-focused and have been simplified for officials and citizens to better understand. The purpose of the protocol is not only to improve the ranking of cities, but to motivate cities to realize the spirit of the Mission.
Speaking at the launch event, Ms. Roopa Mishra, Co-Secretary and Mission Director, Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, highlighted the Mission’s focus on simplifying and the robustness of certification processes. “In the sanitation sector, a one-size-fits-all approach will not be enough to adequately meet the growing demands and needs of the sector. It is critical for all of us to continuously innovate to address sanitation challenges in unique ways. The focus should be on ensuring the operation and maintenance of all toilets so that we can sustain the ODF achievements of the country.
The launch event was followed by the third episode of SwachhTalks, the Mission’s flagship initiative to promote city and state peer learning. With the first episode titled “SafaiMitraSuraksha” and the second titled “Swachhata Ki Jyot” on IEC initiatives under the Mission, the third edition was titled “Swachh Certifications: The Face of Urban Transformation”, aimed at strengthening the capabilities of public officials on innovative restroom solutions deployed by cities, states, and organizations.
Mr. Chandra Mohan Garg, Commissioner, Prayagraj, shared the sanitation related strategies followed by the host city during Kumbh Mela in 2019 for the maintenance of community and public toilets. Fibre-reinforced plastic toilets and pre-engineered steel toilets were installed for easy maintenance. During the Kumbh Mela 2019, around 17,000 toilets were installed without the possibility of connecting the units to the sewage networks. Thus, the city has hired more than 250 trucks and two temporary treatment plants (STP) for efficient management of wastewater. Additionally, the city has organized extensive campaigns, led by more than 1,500 volunteers, to ensure good behavior during the Kumbh Mela.
While discussing the development of sanitation infrastructure in Vijayawada, the Municipal Commissioner, Mr. Swapnil Pundkar, mentioned the relevance of the Namma toilet model. These are modular toilets that can be installed in two months and offer the possibility of modification at any time. Now, most spaces are on their way to getting rid of the “yellow dots.” In addition, ULB also shared its action plan to integrate air-conditioned “Sulabh complexes” with features such as automatic sanitary napkin dispensers to improve access to inclusive sanitation infrastructure in the city.
Also speaking at SwachhTalks, Bhopal City Commissioner Mr. KVS Choudary showcased efficient and functional toilet designs in the city such as SHE Lounge, Bio Toilets and Fresh Rooms, stressing the importance given to dignity and access to sanitation for all. .
Private sector organizations also participated in the webinar. Mr. Sunil Agarwal of the Toilet Board Coalition spoke about the need to support growing startups in this space as well as automating toilets to achieve positive outcomes for health and environmental sustainability. He highlighted the need to execute acceleration programs that will demonstrate innovative sanitation solutions that can be executed at scale and aligned with the Mission.
Mr. Abhishek Nath presented the “Loo Café” model, a sustainable model based on a public-private partnership that charges user fees for the upkeep and maintenance of public toilets. Ms. Srija Santosh from Eram Scientific, Kerala, presented a case study on IoT-based e-toilet business model for public toilets. Lastly, Mr. Ashutosh Giri from Fresh Rooms Hospitality Pvt. ltd. presented a cloud-based e-toilet business model for public restrooms.
Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0, launched by the Prime Minister on October 1, 2022 with the overarching vision of creating “trash-free cities”, introduced wastewater management as a newly funded component for cities under 1 lakh inhabitants. This exemplifies the mission’s commitments to improving the overall wastewater management ecosystem in urban India by ensuring that no untreated wastewater is discharged into water bodies (in line with the Water+ protocol). As part of the mission, the maximum reuse of treated wastewater is a key area, as well as the eradication of dangerous entry into sewers and septic tanks through the mechanization of their cleaning operations.