All States and Union Territories (UTs) were represented at the virtual meeting organised by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation(DDWS) on June 21, 2022 to review progress of SBM-G II in States. Among the key points discussed were ODF Plus progress, Sujlam 2.0, Gobardhan, e-Gramswaraj, GPDP, fund release norms and allocation for 2022-23 and capacity building initiatives.
The 3-hour long meeting was held under the joint chairmanship of Sh. Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayat Raj (MoPR) and Smt. Vini Mahajan, Secretary, DDWS, Ministry of Jal Shakti in the presence of Special Secretary-DDWS, Sh. Arun Baroka.
States and UTs were represented by Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, Secretaries of Rural Sanitation, Panchayati Raj Department and PHED and Mission Directors of SBM-G II.
Update on ODF Plus
At the outset, in a comprehensive presentation, the Special Secretary-DDWS gave an overview of where the States stand in terms of ODF Plus progress and the specific elements that were needed to fulfil the requirements of an ODF Plus village. To achieve the target of 2 lakh ODF Plus model villages by March 2023, the Special Sectary said that priority should be given to larger villages and work should be initiated in all panchayats with aggressive convergence of 15th Finance Commission grants. All work should be complemented with IEC and capacity building initiatives and also verification and inspection of ODF Plus model villages.
Mr. Baroka also mentioned that foremost on the agenda would be for priority villages to be converted into ODF Plus. These include larger villages having a population of more than 5000; 1.48 lakh villages which are having 100 per cent functional household tap connections (FHTCs); villages on the banks of rivers and other water bodies; villages under the 112 Aspirational Districts which are to be prioritized for ODF Plus (Model) villages; and 6291 villages chosen under schemes such as Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna (SAGY).
As on date, there are 81,971 villages which have declared themselves ODF Plus of which 44,306 are in the Aspiring category, 13,634 in Rising and 24,031 Model category. Further, 84,204 villages have been covered with solid waste management arrangements and 60,875 villages with liquid waste management.
Among the top-ranking States and UTs leading in ODF Plus are Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Dadar Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Puducherry.
On the progress of solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) in States, the Special Secretary also provided updates on the SLWM assets as recorded in the IMIS; the soak pits constructed under Sujlam campaign so far; the progress made under GOBARdhan; the status of 15th FC funds; the importance of using eGramSwaraj – an e-Governance tool for transparency in the decentralised planning, progress reporting and work-based accounting; capacity building activities planned and the way forward.
Focus on 5 pillars of ODF Plus
Sanitation is a large and complex subject which requires the whole of the Government as well as the States and UTs – not just of one Department but several departments to come together for the successful implementation of the programme, Secretary DDWS said. She added that there were a lot of expectations and there were multiple sources of funding which the rural local bodies were entitled to.
Ms. Mahajan asked States to prioritize transfer of funds to RLBs and support them in the planning, implementation and utilisation of funds so that fresh funds can be released.
The Secretary-DDWS emphasised the importance of focusing on the five pillars – new toilets and community sanitary complexes (CSCs) where required; solid waste management, plastic waste management, greywater management and faecal sludge management so that visual cleanliness is reflected in the villages. Of manpower structure and other challenges, she called on States to review the situation and encouraged them to motivate, guide and push the field level functionaries, asserting that monitoring is critical.
eGramSwaraj portal and funding norms
Addressing the participants, Sh. Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayat Raj, Government of India spoke of the need to fulfil all conditions to avail of both the tied and untied grants available under the 15th FC. He also called on the States to incorporate activities pertaining to sanitation and drinking water in the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) which should be uploaded on the eGramSwaraj portal; asserting the need to familiarise themselves with the portal. Capacity building of people is extremely critical, both in JJM and SBM-G, at institutional levels on all aspects of the Mission, making sure that women are nominated in equal numbers, while focusing on sustainability of assets created. He reiterated the impact of a Green Village, overall health and wellbeing of communities, decline in water and vector borne diseases, water sufficient villages where the water source is not contaminated, etc.
Update on activities and challenges encountered
The States were requested to talk about their state specific issues, and provide updates on the progress of their ODF Plus activities. Among those who spoke were – Ms. Nisha Singh, ACS – Himachal Pradesh; Ms. Amudha, Principal Secretary – Tamil Nadu; Dr. Sharmila, Principal Secretary – Kerala; Mr. Balamurugan, Secretary, Rural Development-Bihar; Mr. D.K. Tiwari, Principal Secretary -Water Supply and Sanitation, Punjab; Sh. C.S Rao, Principal Secretary – Sikkim; Mr. Ashok Meena, Secretary-Odisha; Shri Mhonbemo Patton, Secretary, PHED, Nagaland; Dr. Sampath Kumar, Mission Director – Andhra Pradesh; Mr. Abhay Mahajan, Mission Director – Maharashtra; Mr. Prashant Kumar, Secretary – Jharkhand, and Dr. Neha Arora, Mission Director, Jharkhand; Mr. Anuj Jha, Mission Director, UP; Mr. Charandeep Singh, Director-Rural Sanitation, J&K and Mr. Syed Mohammed Razi, Commissioner cum Secretary, Meghalaya; among others.
A video on the SBM-G journey so far and the increased focus being given to the various ODF Plus elements was shown.