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Sanitation has to be an integral part of the urbanisation agenda, says Minister Hardeep Puri

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 27, 2020

Hardeep Puri, Minister of State (Independent/Charge) Housing and Urban Affairs (file photo)

Hardeep Puri says $5 t economy not feasible sans this ‘inclusiveness’

India today spends nearly ₹9.70 lakh crore on urban infrastructure, which is almost six times more than the ₹1.75 lakh crore spent between 2004 and 2014, Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday.

Inaugurating a two-day conference organised by New Delhi-based Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) on future of urban sanitation, Puri said there has been a tendency to underestimate the rate and growth of urbanisation in India. “By the time we reach 2030, India will have an urban population close to 600 million, representing 40 per cent of the country’s population; the urban sector will account for about 70 per cent of the GDP, 85 per cent of the total tax revenue and 70 per cent of the jobs created in India,” the Minister said. He, however, added that urban development cannot be conceptualised without taking urban sanitation into consideration.

If India has to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024, it has to make inclusive sanitation a part of urban agenda, he said, adding: “Today, policies are succeeding because they are qualitatively designed around citizen participation and are embedded in cooperative federalism.”

Helping sanitation workers

Puri said outlawing the practice of manual scavenging alone will not work. It is important to help sanitation workers by providing protective gear, adding clauses to contracts, upholding strong laws and aiding in their social upliftment.

Speaking on the occasion, Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Jal Shakti Ministry, said that there are many lessons to be learnt across the urban-rural divide over sanitation.

According to him, there are four key lessons to be learnt from the first phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM): political leadership and championship of the cause, public financing (government needs to invest more in public sanitation, because there is a more than 400 per cent return on it), partnerships and people’s participation. In the new phase of SBM, the focus is on four pillars: sustaining ODF India; managing solid waste (organic waste is used as an alternative fuel such as bio-CNG) and eliminating the use of single use plastic by 2022; managing liquid waste (greywater, which is wastewater from kitchens and bathrooms); and faecal sludge management.

“The need of the hour is to strive for sustainable and inclusive sanitation over the next five years, especially while involving different stakeholders at the local level. The government has also made an effort over the recent years to propose more adaptive and inclusive urban policies like Amrut (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) and SBM,” said Rajesh Tandon, PRIA Founder-President. Tandon also stressed on the need for localising SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

Published on February 27, 2020

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