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Waste Processing in Urban India Soars to 76%, India on Track to Achieve SBM Phase Two Goals by 2025, Say Ministers at FICCI

New Delhi, November 20, 2023: Addressing the 7th ISC-FICCI Sanitation Awards Ceremony and India Sanitation Conclave through a video address,  Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, highlighted that the Swachh Bharat Mission Urban has dramatically increased the processing of waste in urban areas, with more than 76% of the total waste now being processed, a significant leap from just 17% in 2014. 

Puri attributed this substantial progress to the transformative initiatives driven by the Prime Minister, which have catalysed a behavioural shift towards cleanliness in the country. The Swachh Bharat Mission, alongside the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), has played a crucial role in enhancing the state of sanitation across India. Notably, the Swachh Bharat mission has been instrumental in addressing the challenge of open defecation in urban areas through the construction of 63 lakh individual toilets and 6.3 lakh public toilets. Furthermore, AMRUT has been pivotal in tackling the shortage of basic sanitation infrastructure, adding 172 lakh water tap connections and 135 lakh sewer connections in cities, the minister highlighted. 

In a video address at the Conclave, Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, announced that India is on track to fully achieve the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) phase-two goals by 2025.  Shekhawat highlighted the remarkable progress in rural sanitation, noting that nearly 80% of villages have already declared themselves Open Defecation Free (ODF) Plus under the SBM-Grameen initiative. He emphasised the crucial role of public-private partnerships in this success, drawing attention to successful collaborations in other sectors, such as highways and airport construction, and advocating for similar partnerships in water and sanitation. 

The Minister also spotlighted the India Sanitation Coalition at FICCI’s pivotal role in these partnerships, particularly through the innovative Lighthouse Initiative (LHI). LHI, he noted, has been a game-changer, with corporate houses adopting entire gram panchayats for Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) interventions. This initiative that currently covers 75 gram panchayats across 15 states, is poised for further expansion in its second phase, with nearly 40 major corporate houses set to cover much larger geographies. 

Naina Lal KidwaiChair, India Sanitation Coalition, in her keynote address, emphasised the essential role of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in India’s progress. Highlighting the significant achievements of the Swachh Bharat Mission, Ms Kidwai noted that India is on the brink of a major sanitation revolution, with nearly universal access to toilets and significant strides towards becoming open defecation-free aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals 6.2. 

Kidwai also highlighted the emerging focus on plastic waste management, with more than 2500 Plastic Waste Management Units now established. Additionally, she underlined the operational status of nearly 3000 faecal sludge management plants, illustrating the country’s commitment to comprehensive sanitation solutions. With the construction of 11.3 crore individual household latrines and over two lakh community toilets under the SBM rural initiative. Kidwai hailed these accomplishments as not just statistical milestones but as transformative steps. She also discussed how everything we do has an impact on climate change, and how climate change presents a major threat to water and sanitation services both, in rural and urban communities. She further highlighted the role of ISC in in mitigating climate change. 

In his address, Dr R. A. Mashelkar, Former Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research and Chair, Awards Jury, emphasised the Assured Framework for Actual Innovation. He highlighted the importance of an intricate framework for evaluating Actual Innovations, noting that impactful sanitation solutions must be affordable for scalability, sustainable in terms of business viability, environmentally friendly, adaptable to regulatory changes, and socially acceptable. Dr. Mashelkar also stressed the need for user-friendliness and integration of advanced technologies like AI and robotics to improve sanitation. He advocated for a broad range of innovation, including new business models and organisational changes, while urging unique approaches to meet India’s specific sanitation challenges. Dr R. A. Mashelkar also felicitated the ISC-FICCI Sanitation Award winners during the session. 

On the occasion, a compendium, “Cities in Crisis: Best Practices on Curbing Plastic Waste across Urban India”, was also unveiled. The compendium is a collection of twenty case studies from nineteen organisations, shedding light on diverse solutions to tackle the plastics waste crisis. 

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