Over 1.8 lakh villages in the country have achieved Open Defecation Free-Plus (ODF+) status so far and the government will attempt to double the number this year, an official of the Drinking Water and Sanitation department said.
Areas working towards sustainability of Open Defecation Free (ODF) status to ensure proper maintenance of toilet facilities are categorised as Swachh Bharat Mission ODF+. SBM Grameen Phase-II was launched in February 2020 with the aim to ensure that all villages in the country can declare themselves as ODF Plus by the end of 2024.
”In SBM Grameen Phase-II, we are also working for comprehensive sanitation in our villages, through effective solid and liquid waste management. This includes biodegradable waste management, plastic waste management, greywater management and fecal sludge management, leading to villages becoming ODF+,” Vini Mahajan, Secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, told PTI.
”We are encouraging generation of both biogas and compressed biogas, and manure from organic waste under the GOBARdhan scheme. We hope to see segregation of waste at household level, and door-to-door collection in more and more villages. Plastic waste management units should be set up in each block,” she added.
The GOBARdhan scheme aims to support villages in safely managing their cattle waste, agriculture waste and organic waste.
Fecal matter in rural settings can be best handled in situ through twin pit toilets, and in case of septic tank-based toilets, mechanized de-sludging and linkage with sewage treatment plants need to be done, Mahajan said.
”Similarly, in situ management of grey water, through household soak pits, is preferred, with community soak pits and other solutions also available for large dense villages. All these are being pursued vigorously,” she said.
”As we move forward on all these issues, the need for convergence between various sources of funds, especially MGNREGA, Fifteenth Finance Commission tied grants and SBM(G) funds, and the combined efforts of the different departments operating these schemes on ground will be emphasized,” Mahajan added.
She said more than 1.8 lakh villages out of 6 lakh in the country have become ODF+. ”We hope to see this number double this year,” Mahajan added.
On Jal Jeevan Mission, which aims to provide functional tap water connection to all rural households, she said the ministry will try to provide tap water connection to as many households as possible.
”Our vision for 2023 is to achieve connectivity for as many households as possible. As we progress into 2023, we will speed up groundwork in the remaining villages of the country to ensure connectivity,” she said.
”We will continue to help the state governments with technical expertise and support in getting clearances from various agencies. This support can be varied. It can be getting clearance for land, securing environmental clearance for laying pipelines in a particular area. We will encourage a saturation approach, covering all the households in a village, and certification by the gram sabha as ‘Har Ghar Jal’ village,” Mahajan added.
Till now, over 11 crore rural households have been provided functional tap water connections, while around eight crore are left.