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Swachh Bharat Mission Seems to Be on Its Way Out

The mission, which also inspired Bollywood to make a movie on the subject of sanitation, would now be undertaken on a back-end mission

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Swachh Bharat, Mission, Scheme
The Finance Ministry has decreased allocation to Swachh Bharat as the mission per se has almost ended with most targets till October 2, 2018 already being achieved. Flickr

With more important schemes on solid waste management and drinking water expected to get higher funding, the government’s much publicised Swachh Bharat Mission — which aims to enhance the level of sanitation in India and make the country open defecation free (ODF)– seems to be on its way out.

The Finance Ministry has decreased allocation to Swachh Bharat as the mission per se has almost ended with most targets till October 2, 2018 already being achieved. The mission, which also inspired Bollywood to make a movie on the subject of sanitation, would now be undertaken on a back-end mission of solid waste management under a cluster system, a top ministry official has said.

The mission was started in 2014. Run by the Government of India, the mission aimed to achieve an “open-defecation free” (ODF) India by October 2, 2019, by constructing 90 million toilets in rural India at a projected cost of Rs 1.96 lakh crore.

“Swachh Bharat is now almost ending. It has reached the final stage and only 10 per cent of work is there. Now back-end work is to be done — solid waste management, it will be a cluster type of a thing, which cannot be an individual kind. That also has been factored in the expenditure. There is a gradual decrease in allocation on that,” Girish Chandra Murmu, Expenditure Secretary told IANS in an interview.

Swachh Bharat, Mission, Scheme
The government’s much publicised Swachh Bharat Mission — which aims to enhance the level of sanitation in India and make the country open defecation free (ODF). Flickr

For 2019-20, the allocation for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has fallen by 25 per cent. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced proposal to expand the mission to achieve 100 per cent solid waste management as its expansion.

The budget outlay of Rs 12,644 crore allocated for SBM (Gramin) in the current year is around Rs 4,334 crore lower than the revised estimate of 2018-19. Swachh Bharat Mission which was an election plank in 2014-15 as a core scheme had an revised outlay of Rs 16,978 crore in FY19, lower than budget estimate of Rs 17,843 crore. Prior to that, in FY18, the mission got actual outlay of Rs 19,427 crore.

Sitharaman in her Budget speech had said Swachh Bharat would now be expanded. “I now propose to expand the Swachh Bharat Mission to undertake sustainable solid waste management in every village,” she had said

“Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has touched the very conscience of the nation besides bringing enormous health and environmental benefits. This scheme initiated in 2014, has achieved a resounding success as 9.6 crore toilets have been constructed since October 2, 2014.”

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She said that more than 5.6 lakh villages have become ODF. “We have to build on this success. We must not only sustain the behavioural change seen in people but also harness the latest technologies available to transform waste into energy.”

“I now propose to expand the Swachh Bharat Mission to undertake sustainable solid waste management in every village,” she added.

With each year passage of the Swachh Bharat, critics and experts have repeatedly pointed out that while the Swachh Bharat Mission had an important goal in mind, the question of what to do with the waste accrued was never sufficiently answered. So far, India had largely been relying on the informal sector for waste management. (IANS)

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Denmark Hopes to Set Example for World with Ambitious Scheme to Cut Carbon Emissions by 70%

To be honest, for the climate, even if we just close down our country tomorrow, it wouldn't help much

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Denmark, World, Scheme
FILE - Denmark's Climate and Energy Minister Dan Jorgensen speaks during an interview in Copenhagen, Denmark, Aug.16, 2019. VOA

Denmark’s official in charge of climate matters says his country hopes to set an example for the world with an ambitious scheme to cut carbon emissions by 70% in little more than a decade, but it has no illusions that it can have a meaningful impact on global warming by itself.

“To be honest, for the climate, even if we just close down our country tomorrow, it wouldn’t help much,” Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s top climate and energy official, told VOA during a visit to Washington this week. “I guess you can argue: Does it really matter what you do?”

Jørgensen said Denmark accounts for just 0.1% of the world’s carbon emissions, a drop in the bucket compared with emissions from the largest polluters such as China, the United States and India. But he said, “The reason we do these things anyway is that if we succeed in doing that, then hopefully we’ll inspire others.”

Jørgensen, who will be in New York next week to promote his country’s climate agenda at the United Nations, said his country hopes to demonstrate that it can carry out a green transformation and still be competitive in the global marketplace. In the process, it expects to develop new technologies that “other countries can also use.”

Denmark, World, Scheme
People hold placards during the Global Climate Strike at Raadhuspladsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

Stages of debate

According to Jørgensen, the climate debate in Denmark has gone through several stages since the issue started to enter the public’s consciousness about 15 or 20 years ago.

At that time, he said, some in Denmark still questioned how real climate change was and whether humans had anything to do with it. That was followed by a period in which the public by and large understood that climate change was real, but some remained reluctant to devote resources to the problem, concerned that efforts by Denmark alone would be futile.

Now, he said, most people agree on the nature of the problem. Looking out the window, “they see droughts, they see flooding, they see extreme weather phenomena,” he said. “We are also a nation that’s closely connected to Greenland,” one of the places where climate change is most evident in the form of melting glaciers.

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With that consensus, the debate has shifted to an energetic discussion about the best policy instruments to address the problem.

The issue so dominated Danish general elections in June that the campaign has been described as the country’s “first climate election,” with the question of how to achieve a green transformation topping the agenda in debates among the candidates for prime minister and other posts.

Looking beyond Denmark, Jørgensen said Denmark and its partners in the European Union were sad to see the United States withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and hope it will reconsider. “There’s nothing I would hope more than the U.S. taking leadership on the global stage also on green issues,” he said.

Join the battle

Denmark, World, Scheme
Denmark’s official in charge of climate matters says his country hopes to set an example for the world with an ambitious scheme to cut carbon emissions by 70% in little more than a decade. Pixabay

Meanwhile, Jørgensen said, all countries and especially the “big growing economies” must join in the battle to prevent climate change “from becoming irreversible and having the most catastrophic consequences.”

But he acknowledges the frustration of newly developing countries, which are only now acquiring energy-intensive amenities that the developed nations have long enjoyed.

“It’s not up to us who’ve been polluting and emitting greenhouse gases for more than 100 years — when I say us, I mean the West, the United States, Europe — it’s not up to us to tell them, ‘No, you cannot drive a car, you cannot buy a fridge or an air conditioner, no, you can’t start to eat meat a few times a week because you can afford it all of a sudden because you’ve come out of poverty.’ ”

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Rather, he said, it is up to Denmark and the other developed countries to say, “Can we help you in any way to make that growth green?” (VOA)