India to be open-defecation free by October 2, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman during budget speech


New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today declared the Union Budget, becoming the first full-time female FM to do so. The 89th Budget since the country attained independence, this account of the government of India’s expenditure and revenue invoked much anticipation across the length and breadth of the country. Despite heavy criticism, the government has maintained its stance over this budget is the first step towards making India a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024.

Among other things addressed by the Finance Minister in her speech, ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, Narendra Modi government’s flagship initiative also found exclusive mention. “I am happy and satisfied to report that India will be made Open Defecation Free on October 2nd, 2019 as per the dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Nirmala Sitharaman amidst roaring applause by fellow parliamentarians.

During her speech, the Finance Minister also expressed her proposal to expand the Swachh Bharat mission by setting up a sustainable solid waste management apparatus in every Indian village with the use of the latest technology. “9.6 crore toilets have been constructed since October 2, 2014. More than 5.6 lakh villages have become open defecation free. We have to build on this success,” said Sitharaman.

The Economic Survey tabled in the parliament on Thursday analysed the government’s initiative ‘From Swachh Bharat to Sundar Bharat via Swasth Bharat’. The report said that in 2015, about 2.3 billion people, globally, lacked basic services. Over 55 crore practiced open defecation in 2014, even 67 years after India’s independence, said the report. For this purpose, the government has decided to meet the targets of making India open defecation free by October 2 of this year, on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The report further said that the Swachh Bharat Missing offers citizens flexibility in choice by building in several options for poor or disadvantaged families looking to upgrade their toilets. Under SBM, an incentive of ₹12,000 is sanctioned for the construction of individual household latrines (IHHL) to eligible beneficiaries. While the central share for the incentive is 60 per cent, the remaining 40 per cent is borne by the state. In fact, the report also asserts that funds amounting to a total of ₹14478.1 crore were sanctioned between 2018 and March 2019. Out of these, 89.3 per cent of the funds amounting to ₹12,932.96 crore was released by the government and utilised for the construction of toilets in the homes of rural beneficiaries.